Soulmates: Power Couples Running the Farm

By Stephanie Metzinger I n an industry that has historically embodied family values, couple-owned enterprises bring a unique, homegrown aspect to agriculture. Family-owned businesses currently account for 64 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, with husband-wife teams running an estimated 1.2 million companies. These dynamic duos have led organizations and companies that have triumphed over challenges time and time again largely due to their founders’ iron-clad bonds and strong family commitment. Alexandra & Paul Allen Company: Main Street Produce/Freshway Farms Locations: Santa Maria, California For Alexandra Allen, a chance visit to an old elementary school friend forever changed her life. “Paul and I met when I came to Santa Maria to spend a weekend with my best friend from second grade, who I had not seen in many years,” she said. Alexandra and Paul married two years after their encounter, and not long after, their fruitful business partnership began. Together, they operate Main Street Produce, a cooler, shipper and marketing company; Freshway Farms, a strawberry and vegetable farming company; and Fresh Valley Harvesting, a farm labor contracting company. While Paul’s focus is generally on Main Street Produce and marketing

In U.S. agriculture specifically, where 98 percent of America’s 2.2 million farms are family-owned and operated, these power couples have built well-rounded farming companies that equally balance economic and operational expertise with cultural and equitable competence. Though there are countless husband-wife dream teams across the nation, here is a look at some throughout Western Growers membership.

quality strawberries and broccoli through Freshway Farms, while selling product and offering cooling services to other growers and shippers through Main Street Produce. “My favorite thing about working together is that it makes me feel like our lives are really 100 percent connected,” said Alexandra. “We have laughed about how it can be kind of hard to ‘turn off ’ the shop talk, but at the same time, we are both so appreciative to have partners that really, truly understand what we do. We both care deeply about these companies and all of our employees, and when you really care deeply about something, it is great to have a spouse who honestly does ‘get it’!”

their product, Alexandra puts most of her energy into Freshway Farms as compliance counsel. “Our skill sets are different from each other, but that is a good thing,” said Paul. “It’s great to know that you have a partner that you can completely trust and that you know cares about the business and the people involved as deeply as you do.” Paul’s father founded Main Street Produce in the ‘70s, and through Alexandra and Paul’s immense responsibility for producing food and taking care of the land and the people that make it possible, the husband-and- wife team expanded the company and brought all three entities to new heights. Today, the Allens consistently grow top-



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