Cindi & Larry Pearson Company: Santa Rosa Produce Locations: Maricopa, Arizona

From Army to agriculture, Cindi and Larry Pearson have together grown their family farm into a melon powerhouse. Michigan-native Cindi met Larry, a third-generation grower, while serving in the Army; Cindi was in supply working for the Military Police and Larry was in the Military Police when the duo met. After completing their service, the couple then embarked on their joint-farming enterprise. The pair jumped on an opportunity to buy some ground in Maricopa at an auction, and after winning the bid, the bank also offered a cooler that was near the acreage for a discounted rate. At the time, the couple did not have extensive knowledge about cooling; fast-forward 30 years, one of the Pearsons’ claims to fame is now skillfully running a 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art cooling facility that allows them to be efficient with their melon production as well as maximize storage capacity to guarantee quality. The Pearsons also have built a reputation for implementing leading technologies to produce top-of-the-line cantaloupe, honeydew, mixed melons and cotton. In fact, they have been credited with being among the first melon operations to implement 100 percent drip irrigation. The couple celebrated their 40-year anniversary a few years back, and their partnership has only grown stronger. Today, Cindi operates the shipping and cold storage of the melons while Larry Pearson manages the growing, and they continue to make all business decisions together.

Harrison Topp & Stacia Cannon Company: Topp Fruits Locations: Hotchkiss, Colorado Launching a farming enterprise from the ground up is a massive endeavor, but first-generation farmers Harrison Topp and Stacia Cannon are tackling the challenge in stride…and making it look easy. “My partner Stacia and I are beginning farmers,” said Harrison. “Neither one of us grew up directly in agriculture, so when we decided that we wanted to do this we had to figure out a lot of things and make a lot of assessments about what the future might have in store.” Harrison’s journey into agriculture started in 2012 when he casually started managing his parents’ plum and cherry orchard in Paonia, Colorado. Soon after, he started to develop a deep passion for horticulture and orchards and had inklings to expand operations. “I started looking for more ground and that’s when Stacia came into my life. We started taking it seriously and really realizing what scale we needed to be at to make it work,” he said. The pair officially expanded the operation in 2018 with an apple and peach orchard in Hotchkiss, and since then, have teamed to establish a strong market to move their fruit. Playing “divide and conquer,” the pair have set up relationships with packing houses, community-supported agriculture and farmers’ markets



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