Delivering the week’s top organic food news
100% Non-GMO

Why Once Upon a Farm’s Collaboration with Erewhon is So Meaningful

(With her mother Pat Garner, Once Upon a Farm's Jennifer Garner at her farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma.)

For Once Upon a Farm co-founder and chief brand officer Jennifer Garner, her company’s exclusive product launch with LA-based natural supermarket Erewhon is no ordinary collaboration.

It is the realization of a dream come true for this Hollywood actress and her entire family.

A few years ago when Jen first met industry veteran John Foraker — and the two subsequently agreed to join forces at this organic baby food company – she floated an idea by him.

“I thought it would be incredible if we could use my family’s farm in Oklahoma to grow organic vegetables for the company’s products,” said Jennifer Garner.

The farm had been owned by her family for the last 100 years, and her mother grew up in the property’s farmhouse. It had a big garden, dozens of pecan trees, and chickens and cows were raised on the land. Yet, this was not easy living back in the day. It was during the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression, and all of the kids shared one big bed.

With the farm lying dormant and nothing having been planted for the last 40 years, her relatives feared that it would be sold. So, Jennifer Garner decided to step in and make sure that it did not leave the family’s domain.

But this was easier said than done.

There was no readily available deed or paperwork which proved that the family actually owned the property. Apparently, the purchase of the land decades ago was done via a handshake. Only after Jennifer hired a forensic accountant to determine that the property was legally owned by the family would her business manager allow her to move forward with the purchase of the farm.

With the land finally in her possession, Once Upon a Farm could begin the process of growing vegetables, and Jen’s first order of business was to recruit her uncle Robert, who had retired as a plumber, and her aunt Janet to tend to the farm full-time.

Along with co-founder and president Ari Raz, who has played an instrumental role in this project, the company also hired Jim Fullmer to consult with all farming-related issues, including USDA organic certification. Jim ran Demeter for 14 years and has been a Biodynamic farmer in Oregon since 1980, and everything is being grown in accordance to Biodynamic standards even though the farm is not Demeter-certified.

Once Upon a Farm then decided to reach out to Row 7, the organic seed company of acclaimed chef Dan Barber, and both parties agreed that the Koginut squash – an organic, Non-GMO variety — would be the ideal vegetable to grow on this property and for the end-product.

“The Koginut squash was developed by Michael Mazourek, an organic vegetable breeder and Row 7’s co-founder. It marries the sweetness of the best butternut squash with the velvety texture and high dry matter of a Japanese kabocha-like squash. The result is completely delicious. Since the Koginut was introduced last year, it’s been celebrated nationwide by chefs and growers,” said Charlotte Douglas, founding member and COO of Row 7.

Despite the weather challenges and serious flooding in Oklahoma over the past year, the company was able to harvest a few thousand pounds of the Koginut squash. While recipe and product development is normally spearheaded by co-founder and chief innovation officer Cassandra Curtis, Jennifer Garner took the lead on this one, not surprising given how personal it was for her.

Next up was figuring out the distribution strategy. Once Upon a Farm knew it was going to sell the product directly to consumers, but it wanted a retailer involved as well.

“Erewhon has innovation and a true entrepreneurial spirit in its DNA. We are really excited and proud to partner with them, particularly since they do not do these things often,” put forth John Foraker, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

“Exclusive national brand partnerships are rare at Erewhon. We have done a couple, but this speaks directly to the heart of our brand. Once Upon a Farm has an authenticity you can trust and feel,” said Jason Widener, Vice President of Erewhon.

With the product “Farmer Jen & the Giant Squash” currently for sale at all five of the retailer’s stores in the Los Angeles area and on Once Upon a Farm’s website, while limited supplies last, the culmination of this project has tremendous sentimental value to Jennifer Garner and is truly a family affair.

“Everything felt as if it was kissed by an angel and had a ‘meant-to-be’ feeling to it. My uncle was a plumber and became a farmer, and this is the farm that my mom grew up on and I have gone to my whole life. When I first saw the crates of food at my local Erewhon, it made me tear up. It’s magical.”

(Farmer Jen & The Giant Squash is made with Koginut squash, apples, dates, coconut milk, lemon juice, oats and cinnamon.)

(from l. to r., Uncle Robert, Ari Raz, Jennifer Garner)

(An aerial view of the farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma)

With gratitude,

Max Goldberg, Founder

New Organic Products

New Organic Products

Plantain Chips from Platayuc

A family-owned business in Ecuador, Platayuc offers organic plantain chips in three flavors -- lightly salted, naturally sweet and lightly spicy. Organic cassava-yuca chips are coming soon.

Pea Protein Toddler Formula from Nature's One

In what the company says is a first for the baby formula industry, Nature’s One has introduced a new organic plant-based toddler formula made of pea protein. Both dairy-free and gluten-free, it provides an option for families who prefer a vegetarian diet without the use of soy proteins.

Tortilla Chips from HIPPEAS

Expanding beyond the puffed snack category, HIPPEAS has launched a line of organic tortilla chips. With 3 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per 1 oz. serving, they come in three flavors -- Straight Up Sea Salt, Rockin' Ranch and Jalapeño Vegan Cheddar. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market nationwide.
This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course

New Study Shows 'Organic' Wounds Improve Produce

A new study out of Texas A&M confirms that insects present in the fields of organic farms cause a stress response in the plant, which increases antioxidant compounds.

New Hope Network

Natural Products Industry Isn't Promoting Women to Executive Positions

By Kellye Crocker

Women in leadership is a proven benefit for businesses of all sizes, but companies in the natural products industry often fail to promote women to executive positions.


Perdue Farms Now Selling Organic Chicken Direct-to-Consumer

The industry giant now offers frozen chicken, beef, pork, and lamb through an e-commerce platform.

Second Course

In Bhutan, Target of 100% Organic by 2020 has been Pushed to 2035

By Chimi Dema

As of today, only about 10% of the cropland is Bhutan is certified organic -- a long way to go to reach its stated goal of 100%.


Can India Trust Organic Food?

By Shanthi S.

Amid muddled certification processes and questions of affordability, India’s organic food startups struggle to earn consumers' trust.


Kenya Approves GMO Cotton

By Michael J. Ssali

In Kenya, genetically-engineered cotton seeds designed to resist African bollworm, have officially been approved for commercial planting.

Third Course
News Now Finland

In Finland, Consumption of Organic Milk in Schools is Increasing

As the increase in subsidies from the European Union began to increase in 2017, so did the consumption of organic milk in schools.


Farmers Got Billions From Taxpayers In 2019, and Hardly Anyone Objected

By Dan Charles

Farmers got more than $22 billion in government payments in 2019 -- more than the final cost of bailing out the auto industry during the financial crisis of 2008 -- and Congress had nothing to do with it.

Civil Beat

Are Food Forests The Future of Agriculture?

By Claire Caulfield

While the Amazon rainforest burns to make room for monoculture crops, Hawaii is betting the farm on agroforestry.

The Wall Street Journal (paywall)

A New Toxic Weedkiller is Making Headway in the Marketplace -- Enlist

By Jacob Bunge

As Bayer is bogged down in lawsuits, a different but highly toxic herbicide from Corteva is making headway with farmers.

The material in this newsletter is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. All requests must be in writing. Please use our contact form to request republication rights.

Share This Newsletter

Share This

Search Newsletter Archive

Newsletter Archive

This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* Sen. Cory Booker has introduced The Farm System Reform Act of 2019, which would place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large factory farms, also known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations).

* To support this bill, you can sign the Organic Consumers Association’s e-petition HERE.

* Iconic food and anti-GMO activist Vandana Shiva will be speaking at UC-Santa Cruz on January 25-26.

* The oldest organic hazelnut orchard in the U.S.

* In London, Radio Alice offers 24-hour fermented organic sourdough pizzas.

* The Cornucopia Institute has rolled out a new website. It looks great!

* MOSES organic farm group has named a new leader.

* Consumer Reports has announced the appointment of former USDA deputy undersecretary Brian Ronholm as director of food policy.

* The Las Vegas Strip is about to get its first vegan organic restaurant.

* A new Tex-Mex restaurant has opened in Dallas called Toluca Organic.

Newsletter Topics

Organic Insider