Meet a Farmer: Meet Jim & Lucille Demetriff


Jim and Lucille Demetriff of Porterville, CA (photo credit: National Raisin)

Meet Jim and Lucille Demetriff of Porterville, CA. Learn more about Jim and Lucille and why they are proud to be California prune growers.

Jim and Lucille Demetriff have been farming together as husband and wife in Porterville, California for 56 years, and for them, their home and work are one-in-the-same. As second and third generation farmers, respectively, Jim and Lucille agree that farming is in “their blood” — and they wouldn’t want it any other way.

CDPB: What three words would your family use to describe you?

Lucille (laughing): I think they’d say we’re ornery old fogies who like to laugh!

CDPB: What is your favorite activity to do when you aren’t working?

Jim: Between keeping busy at the farm and our campground in Kernville, we really just like to sit at home and relax.

Lucille: Jim likes to go fishing in San Diego and Alaska. We also volunteer at World Ag Expo in Tulare, so we are busy with that coming up next month.

CDPB: How did you get started in the prune industry?

Lucille: One of the field men from National Raisin contacted us because we had fresh plums in the early 90s. He recommended we put prunes in, and we’ve been growing prunes ever since! National Raisin asked us to become organic, and here we are.

CDPB: What makes you proud to be in the California prune industry?

Lucille: I like the Board. It’s proactive and they’re constantly coming out with new research that describes how great prunes are for you.

Jim: We’re also on the prune Board.

CDPB: What sets California prunes apart from other prunes?

Lucille: With all of California’s rules and regulations, they are creating a better product. We buy California produce all the time – it’s higher quality. We’re partial to California, which is why I like to support the California farmers.

CDPB: What makes your orchard different than your neighbors?

Lucille: Everything! There are no prunes around us, so we are isolated. We’re about four miles from another prune grower. Our neighbors grow almonds and table grapes.

CDPB: Who inspires you and why?

Jim: Chris Stegial, the salesman for National Raisin. He was the one who inspired us to become prune farmers.

CDPB: If you were not a grower, what job could you see yourself doing?

Lucille: Oh, we’d still be farming something! It’s in our blood. My father was a farmer, and Jim’s father is a farmer.

Jim: It’s all we know.

CDPB: Describe prunes in three words.

Jim: Nutritious, healthy, tasty.

CDPB: What advice would you give a future grower?

Jim: Grow prunes! California could always use more prunes, especially as they come out with more research that shows just how great prunes are for you.

CDPB: Do you have anything else you would like consumers to know about your orchard and your growing techniques?

Jim: I like being organic because I don’t have to worry about keeping the pests down. I don’t worry about insecticides or pesticides, so, in a way, it’s less work.

CDPB: What is your favorite way to cook (or bake) with prunes?

Jim: They’re great substitutes. Just chop up a prune and throw it in a stew.

Lucille: Oh, we like to eat them plain. We dry our own and keep the pits in so we can chew on them at breakfast. I also like to use them in cookies. I substitute recipes that call for dried apricots, dates, and raisins with prunes all the time. I even used prunes in my date bar cookies, and they came out just as good!

Want to try California prunes in your cookies? Check out these Chewy Dried Plum Spice Cookies and these Healthier Dried Plum & Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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