Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Fortunately for Chris Frieders, this is not just an old proverb, but a reflection of his life. “For me, farming isn’t work,” Chris says, “It’s my life. It’s my family’s life. It’s what I love.”
Chris, a fifth-generation farmer, grew up on a pear ranch and knew at a young age that he wanted to pursue the family lifestyle as a farmer. As a boy, his first summer job was hoeing weeds in a newly planted pear orchard. It was tough, humbling work, but he knew he had to start somewhere and this was part of farming in its truest sense.
Through his college days, Chris took just about every agriculture class offered and worked every summer in farm jobs to help prepare him to pursue his dream career as a farmer. Chris still lives on the family farm in Walnut Grove, along the Sacramento River, amid pear trees planted in the 1860s by his great grandfather. Unfortunately, part of the family farm was sold upon the death of a senior extended family member and the remaining family farm could not support Chris’ family, so Chris went to work as a farm manager, maintaining his farming lifestyle. With over 40 years of farming experience under his belt, Chris has become an innovator in pear production and is a past chairman of the California Pear Advisory Board. Chris works closely with industry researchers and cooperates in many research projects on the ranch.
He believes that growers have a responsibility beyond merely producing food. “I’m concerned that consumers have lost their connection with the land and their food sources, and it’s becoming the growers’ responsibility to educate them,” says Chris, continuing, “Consumers need to know that their demands for food quality and safety are best being met right here at home.” Chris operates the Joe Green Ranch with a focus on sustainability, continuing with a philosophy developed generations ago, and proven by the presence of pear trees on the ranch dating well over 100 years old. Joe Green Ranch produces Bartlett Pears for Pacific Coast Producers and for fresh market outlets, along with other pear varietals for the fresh market, including organically grown Bosc Pears. Chris believes growers should embrace organic farming practices whenever they are viable and credits organic practices for helping improve his conventional farming techniques and his stewardship of the land.