With a passion for food.
Our story doesn't begin with success, or fruit. Yet, our story is similar to many.
My grandfather started a business to take care of ourselves and our family, and to do something we enjoyed at the same time. In 1981, he opened a little restaurant in Johnson Creek, Wisconsin. This was our restaurant! The whole family worked very hard as life in any restaurant is never easy. Thus we all recognized the need to consider other options, to think outside the box, to continue doing something we loved while providing for our family.
Tree-Ripe Citrus Co. was founded in 1990, not because we knew how it would turn out, nor because we had a grand business plan. We realized that something was missing here in the arctic winter months in Wisconsin. Naturally, we love it here. We love the people, the businesses, and the commitment to supporting our local communities and farms; yet, we knew that there are some things that just aren't able to be grown. The question became: how can you identify the people who are growing the finest quality products, and then bring it to Wisconsin?
After he began working with citrus growers in Florida, my grandfather saw a considerable difference in the quality of what was being grown compared to what was available in grocery stores in Wisconsin. While superior quality citrus was available by mail order, it came with extremely high shipping prices. For grocery stores, in order to provide their customers with a wide selection of products, they had to contend with a supply chain, distribution warehouses, and cold storage. But we wanted the best, to have that same amazing piece of fruit that you could get at the farm, and we wanted to be able to deliver that to our home state without the delivery cost.
That’s how we got our start, and why we still bring our fruit the way we do.
We sold our restaurant. My grandfather took his experience and combined it with his knowledge and expertise in logistics, and headed to Florida. We didn't want to focus on too many products. With the right produce, making sure it was the best quality possible, our customers could quickly see the difference in the fruit they purchased at our trucks. Soon, we had our full roster: Florida citrus and Georgia pecans in the winter, Georgia peaches in the summer, and later, Michigan blueberries were added to our summer season.
A large part of why we've been successful, is because we work directly with our farmers. They have the confidence to let their fruit develop to proper maturity. In other words, their fruit isn’t going to be in cold storage for an extended period of time. They do not need to pick for the sole purpose of having "shelf life". Rather, they can harvest their fruit at it's absolute peak. It’s coming directly to you! Most often we can have our fruit in your hands mere days after it was swinging on a tree. That means what you get tastes like real fruit. The way it used to be. The way it's supposed to be.
That being said, bringing you the freshest, best tasting fruits you may ever eat, became a pretty large undertaking. We had to get the whole family involved…. and more! We understand that to get such perfect peaches and oranges into your hands, we need to strive for just that: perfection. Every step along the way, from picking to packing, how it’s handled in transit to loaded onto our trucks, we’re making sure that you will receive the finest product that can be grown. There is nothing better to us than seeing our customers coming up to the truck getting something this special.
Think of this as a little less traditional "farm to table" concept, or a different breed of food truck. We’re just a little bit different, we know.
We hope that you enjoy the products we bring as much as we do. We really can't wait to share it with you, and we'll see you at the truck!
- Tiernan Paine, Owner