Meet a Farmer: Garrett Patricio of Westside Produce
Westside produce was founded on the values of honesty, integrity and loyalty, and you can almost taste those values in the quality of the exceptional cantaloupe and honeydew melons they grow and distribute to families all over the globe. According to Garrett Patricio, vice president and general counsel for Westside Produce, those values, along with ingenuity, innovation and technology will ensure they continue to serve quality food to families for generations to come.
Learn more about Garrett and the sustainability measures he has adopted in their farming operation.
CA GROWN: What are you doing today?
Garrett: Answering long over-due emails, typically those that require a little more thought like this interview. Between my work in the field and administrative duties, sometimes those things can be neglected.
CA GROWN: What is your favorite part of farming?
Garrett: Every single day, month and year is different. Mother Nature leaves things somewhat out of your control and even when you think you’ve got it all figured out, disease, insects, and market economics force you to recalibrate.
CA GROWN: How do you give back to the community?
Garrett: I believe that the youth of today will shape our future in agriculture, so I serve on the school board, do fundraising for local children’s charities, and I’m heavily involved with commodity boards and trade associations that focus on educating youth about the need and value of agriculture.
CA GROWN: What drew you into farming?
Garrett: I never thought I would wind up in farming, but life has a funny way of bringing you home. I graduated college with an accounting degree and then went on to law school. I spent a few years in San Francisco with PricewaterhouseCoopers and then a few more with a law firm. On some level, I figured that I would be in a big city forever, but my father’s partner passed away in 2004 and a new opportunity presented itself. I came home to our family business, Westside Produce, and found a whole new level of excitement. My current responsibilities include a laundry list of occupations…. accounting, law, lobbying, HR, food safety, and occasionally pushing a broom.
CA GROWN: What are your hobbies or past times when you are not farming?
Garrett: I typically have a lot of free time during the winter months, so I spend a lot of time in the mountains snow skiing. I also love golf, water sports, traveling and reading, but the vast majority of my time centers around my three children and their activities.
CA GROWN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start farming?
Garrett: Know what you are getting yourself into. It’s not the easiest career move, you probably won’t make the most money or have “real” days off, but you will likely find the career to be rewarding on so many levels. At the end of the day, you are growing a product that will be used or consumed by others and that’s what makes it all worth it.
CA GROWN: What are one or two things you do on the farm to be sustainable?
Garrett: Sustainability means different things to different people. As a melon supplier, we offer an excellent rotation crop that builds soil profile. With drip irrigation as a more efficient delivery system, we’ve been able to cut down fertilizer, insecticide and water use. A few years ago, we replaced 25 field harvest tractors with newer, cleaner, Tier 4 engines that significantly reduce emissions. Finally, in 2014 we achieved almost 95% energy independence with the completion of a 5-acre, 1.1MW solar system.