Meet a Grower
Valley Fig Growers Chairman, Paul Mesple of Madera, California shared the following insights about being a California Fig Grower for Valley Fig Growers.
Paul is a 4 th generation California Fig Grower. In 1959, his father, Henry Mesple, was a founding member of the Valley Fig Grower Cooperative. The Mesple family members have been critical to the success of Valley Fig Growers over the last 60 years.
The Mesple family came to the Central Valley of California from the little town of Isere, found in the Foothills of the French Alps, in the 1900’s. Ending up in Clovis, CA was fortuitous for the brothers, they all became farmers and began their life’s work. Henry married Madeleine Clement in 1945 and they worked together to raise many crops, including their favorite, figs. Their children, Paul, Denise and Renee all participated in family farming, but Paul would end up being especially involved in farming. A graduate of University of California at Berkeley, Paul nearly became an attorney before his Dad’s sudden death and the lure of farming brought him back to the family farm. He and his wife, Kathy, grow an assortment of California fruits and nuts, including premium quality figs for our Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid brands. Figs, almonds, and stone fruit (like peaches) keep Paul and his farming team busy year round, tending to the crops during harvest and nurturing the trees in the winter for the following year’s crop.
Why belong to a grower owned cooperative?
Having a cooperative like Valley Fig Growers allows Paul to focus on growing the best figs possible while leaving the processing and marketing to Valley Fig Growers.
What’s your biggest challenge?
Like most California farmers, Paul worries about shortages of water, labor costs, weather, and environmental issues. But he remains excited about the future of the California Fig industry.
Paul’s among a group of many farmers investing in technology with the installation of soil moisture monitoring equipment to maximize the benefit of drip irrigation. And with solar panels, he also provides nearly 85% of of his energy needs. Paul comes from a long line of farmers, stretching back three generations in California and another three in France. Through his energy and water efficient practices, The Mesple family intends to continue farming and preserve the family farm for a long time to come.