Ebilio Perez and his three brothers started in the farming business over 15 years ago as harvesters on Lipman's Immokalee, FL farms. Lipman recognized Ebilio's growing expertise and commitment to farming and helped him and his brothers to start up their operation on 50 acres in Hendersonville, NC in 2002.
The Perez Brothers have continued to expand and now grow approximately 400 acres of tomatoes and vegetables which are packed and marketed exclusively by Lipman. Their product offerings include round tomatoes, roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes, Lipman’s proprietary Vintage Ripe tomatoes, and bell peppers.
Doug Wilson and his wife, Linda, have owned and operated DL&B Enterprises Inc. in Clinton, NC for almost a half of a century. They grow approximately 1,250 acres of cucumbers, eggplant, pepper, and squash…all with plasticulture. Their diligence, hard work and consistent production have now positioned them as one of the largest growers in North Carolina.
DL&B grows, harvests, and packs all of its own produce. Sales under the “Kwik Cooled” label are exclusive to Six L’s Packing Inc. (Lipman).
Doug and Linda have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren and define their farm as a family business. Their daughter and son-in-law, Peter and Christy Bustabad, are both involved in the operation of DL&B. Peter is a 25-year veteran of the farm and is in charge of the crops on a daily basis, managing the fertigation and chemigation. Christy works with Linda in the DL&B office and also manages Mobile Farmware LLC, a company they developed to provide software applications relevant to the farming industry.
The family farm remains alive and well in North Carolina. Danny McConnell and his family-owned-and-operated McConnell Farms in Hendersonville are a prime example of this thriving tradition. The property has been in the family since the 1940s when it was purchased by McConnell’s grandfather.
This 150-acre farm is a diverse operation that includes the production of apples, asparagus, strawberries, cucumbers, squash, ginger and greenhouse plants, among other crops.
Though the farm has 30-35 additional employees, this remains a family-oriented operation. Both of Danny’s parents are still involved, his father with the overall operation and his mother as a bookkeeper and sales assistant. His sister creates most of the advertising, his uncle tends to the asparagus operation, and his aunt assists with retail sales. McConnell himself handles much of the overall operation on a daily basis while his wife manages the payroll. Between the prep, planting and harvesting seasons, the family stays busy.
Martha Calderon and Esmerelda Sandoval (sisters-in-law) both began working in the fields as seasonal farmworkers. They eventually worked up to managing contract labor for farmers while still in the fields. Now, the sisters-in-law work for themselves in western North Carolina alongside their husbands and children on their own land.
They also co-founded the Hispanic Women in Agriculture Cooperative so that Latina farmers in their region can work collectively to grow their businesses and increase their opportunities as farmers and landowners. Martha and her husband have been growing tomatoes and peppers in Vale for almost ten years.