Meet a Farmer: Bernard Puget of the The Wonderful Company
Meet Bernard Puget, VP of Farming for The Wonderful Company! Not only does he give back to the community by growing and harvesting amazing, nutritious California pomegranates, his generous spirit has lead him and his wife to run autism society in their local community. Meet this talented farmer who’s passion for farming is evident in his every word.
CA GROWN: What are you doing today?
Bernard:At this time of year, POM Wonderful’s Fresh Pomegranate trees are blooming, so today I was visiting the trees and evaluating the various stages of bloom to see how the trees are progressing. We’re also date stamping all of the blocks so that we have a better idea of when the trees will start bearing fruit.
Fresh pomegranate season is October through January where consumers can purchase POM Wonderful Pomegranates or POM POM Arils ready-to-eat pomegranates. POM Wonderful is the largest grower and producer of fresh pomegranates in the United States. We have 9,000 acres of Wonderful Variety pomegranates in Central California and also and partner with select growers. By managing the entire production process, we guarantee that our fresh pomegranates, fresh arils and 100% pomegranate juice come from only one source – California Wonderful variety pomegranates.
CA GROWN: What is your favorite part of farming?
Bernard:I really enjoy all the facets of farming, I am passionate about every aspect. However, my favorite part is always harvest because it’s the time of year where all the hard work you’ve put in preparing for the season comes to fruition. The team is out there picking the fruit and taking it to the packing houses. The whole team is working hard, there are long hours but it’s all a testament to the fruits of our labor.
CA GROWN: How do you give back to the community?
Bernard:The Wonderful Company has a long-standing commitment to corporate social responsibility, including millions of dollars invested in environmental technologies and sustainability research. The company supports charitable giving and education initiatives, including the construction of a new charter school campus in California’s Central Valley, and innovative health and wellness programs.
On a personal level, my wife and I run a non-profit, Autism Society of America Kern County. We lead an all-volunteer board that goes out into the community, hosts free events that help support and teach parents how to better advocate for their child with autism. This is very close to my heart as I have 2 sons with autism (out of 4 children). We recently hosted an event where over 300 Autistic children and their High School volunteer mentors used Legos and social play to help develop skills and bring awareness for our Autism population.
CA GROWN: What drew you into farming?
Bernard:I grew up on ranch and I’ve been ranching and farming my whole life. I love being outdoors. To me farming is exciting, It’s the ultimate puzzle. Every day is different. Every year is different. You can’t predict Mother Nature and how that can affect a harvest. I also love that in this line of work we work with people from all types of backgrounds, nationalities and a real sense of family and community in the work we do.
CA GROWN: What are your hobbies or past times when you are not farming?
Bernard: My hobbies include travel and fishing. I also love building antique Jeeps but I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like. For travel, my wife and I love to visit and see new places around the world. When it comes to fishing; Fishing is really my sanctuary where I go and recharge.
CA GROWN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start farming?
Bernard:Farming is very unique, it’s one of those professions where you can go into a variety of fields , whether it’s governmental policy, food safety, Agronomy, labor and marketing. I feel you must have a passion for farming, because at the end of the day you’re growing a living plant. It’s really about the commitment seeing a long term project succeed and growing trees that will last over 20 years.
CA GROWN: What are one or two things you do on the farm to be sustainable?
Bernard:Sustainability is always important, if not critical. It’s all about not wasting resources and finding efficiencies whenever possible. Water conservation is crucial, and it’s important to manage both the water and soil to ensure there is a right balance and nothing is being wasted. The Wonderful company has invested $200 million in environmental technologies and sustainability research. In addition, We have our own Wonderful Laboratory where we can test our soils, plant tissue and water to ensure the pomegranates are healthy and producing the highest quality fruit.