Jack de Jong comes to us born and raised on a dairy farm in Hanford, CA. He is the proud owner of River Ranch Farms LLC, which has been in operation for 25 years. Jack had always been in and around the agriculture industry growing up, so it was only a matter of time that he would start his own journey in a career he had always been passionate about. Being influenced to strive for success has ultimately given him the drive to grow his business beyond just a "little old dairy."
Jack graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1995 with a major in Dairy Science and a minor in Ag Business. This not only gave him the knowledge to care for his cows, but also the skill to run a smooth business. River Ranch Dairy started as a partnership between himself and his father, John de Jong. Jack worked alongside his father John for 15 years, and for the last 10 years has taken River Ranch Dairy over himself. As of recently, they have even expanded into farming almonds and blueberries! With any new beginning, you're bound to have some struggles at first, but Jack saw the opportunity to grow and knew right away he was making the right decision for his family and his farm.
INTERVIEW W/ JACK DE JONG
How has your background helped shape the kind of dairyman you are now?
"My father's work ethic and business sense have both given me a good foundation to work with. My education at Hanford Christian, Central Valley Christian High School and ultimately Cal Poly SLO set up me up to be ready to "Learn by Doing". There are so many good people and employees within the industry, past and current, that have allowed me to strive to continuously improve."
What is your favorite part about working in the dairy industry?
"Dairying is a great way to grow up and raise a family. I love working with cows and employees who enjoy working with them as well!"
What made you decide to get into the blueberry industry being that it is uncommon in California?
"Farming on row crops, almonds and now blueberries have come later in my continuing drive to improve my overall business. Row crop farming became necessary when grain markets got entangled with ethanol in the late 2000's. With a couple land purchases over the years, we were able to expand into almond farming! To continue to diversify my business portfolio, we expanded into blueberry farming these past couple years."
What are some challenges that you face while farming blueberries?
"The learning curve for any new endeavor is typically steep. We have learned a lot of things the hard way; partially the use of the right amount and types of fertilizer, correct amount of labor, and keeping the blueberry bushes happily watered. Blueberry's genetics are starting to produce some wonderful products and we are blessed to be growing some of the best fruit out there!"