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NC Produce Grower Grows Operation with USDA

Calderon Produce is truly an American Dream success story, going from a migrant worker family to farming over 130 acres in Haywood County, North Carolina. Martha Calderon, president of Calderon Produce in Vale, NC:

“We were migrant workers for 17 years. We would travel from Florida to North Carolina. I have five kids and it was only my oldest whose senior year that was spent in one high school. The other years were at different schools.”

Stabilizing the family’s educational needs was one of the goals of the Calderon’s settling down into the produce business. The beginnings weren’t easy:

“We started farming with a share crop. And then 10 years ago my husband and I started our own 14 acres. We did everything ourselves. We did what we had to do.”

Those humble beginnings evolved into Calderon Produce, farming over 130 acres of peppers, cucumbers, and other vegetables for the wholesale market. The Calderon’s recently were awarded a Value Added Producer Grant from USDA. Calderon explains what the grant money will be used for:

“We wanted to solidify the marketing plan and branding strategy to have a better business standing in the community.”

Most of Calderon’s product is sold to wholesale distributers in the western part of North Carolina. Their goal is to develop a retail market as well:

“Its always good to have different avenues, you don’t want all of your eggs in one basket.”

Calderon describes some of the retail marketing outlets they’d like to pursue:

“We would like to have the website and maybe some brochures. We want the grant so we can start to do more retail, but still take care of our wholesale customers. We want to integrate the new outlets into our existing plan so we can have the marketing plan to solidify our business.”

Calderon also says they’d like to open a line of distribution into the school system. For more on the Value Added Producer Grants click here. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.