Ag at Large – Farm suppliers can be neighbors

Young happy couple of farmers working in greenhouse. PHOTO COURTESY OF ENVATO ELEMENTS

The companies and industries that provide farmers with tools, equipment, supplies and services are often desirable neighbors. Because so many vital crops are produced in so many California locations, neighborliness is widespread.

In a number of cases the suppliers of a product or products for growers are locally owned and operated. They are often located in, or very near, farm country, with employees by the hundreds taking part in and supporting local life.

Because of the broad spectrum of crops grown in California and their affinity for a wide variety of climate and soil characteristics, the support from businesses that accompany them are scattered throughout the state. Some are neighbors to larger population centers, but many are close to smaller communities. Either way, they cast a positive and continuing benefit.

As typical as an example can be, Bowsmith Industries in Exeter occupies a prominent place on the neighborly scale. It manufactures a sprinkler product called the Fan Jet, used by hundreds of growers of citrus trees as well as those who produce a dozen or more other crops.

Exeter is located in one corner of mammoth agriculture-producing Tulare County. It is citrus country, also with a rich history in table grapes and a variety of tree fruits. Crop growth depends heavily on irrigation, a treatment where Bowsmith’s sprinklers can be a key.

Drip irrigation was just becoming widely accepted 70 years ago when Bowsmith founder Al Smith noticed the limited reach of the drip emitters recently installed in the family’s citrus orchard near Strathmore. He was convinced that trees would benefit measurably if irrigation water could be delivered to cover the entire root zone of the trees.

With advice and participation by irrigation specialists and manufacturing experts, Smith led a team to develop a sprinkler that distributed water over the wider area when a sprinkler was installed at each tree. Such coverage had extra meaning for citrus growers because the wider distribution of water had a warming influence over an entire orchard when necessary during the wintry season.

Many of the technicalities of developing and manufacturing the innovative Fan Jet sprinklers were welcomed by Smith, an aeronautical engineering graduate of Cal Poly University at San Luis Obispo. The company became airborne quickly.

A vacant packinghouse in the Exeter neighborhood that once included several large shipping point facilities became Bowsmith’s home. It offered ample space to grow and include manufacturing and shipping facilities,

After 45 years in the same location, the company has become an Exeter fixture. The number of employees has grown to nearly 100, some of them sons and daughters, even grandsons and granddaughters of those originally employed by the company. Bowsmith has surpassed its status as Exeter’s new neighbor, and has become a vital and contributing part of the community.

Popularity and dependability of the popular Fan Jet sprinkler has allowed expansion of the company with a facility in Florida that serves citrus growers and others in the Southeast. But home is where the company began as a neighbor to agricultural producers.

Agricultural production centers throughout California have attracted many friendly, contributing neighbors. They help extend and strengthen the state’s steadfast agricultural ethic. They are a major part of the reason for the strength and stability of the state’s expanding agricultural neighborhoods.

The agricultural industry in California is widely recognized for its enormous contribution to the state’s economic well being, but its ability to attract good neighbors and welcome their inputs gives it a special significance in building a desirable society.

Don Curlee is your man when it comes to Agriculture. His Ag Alert column in our publication is sure to inform you on what you need to know when it comes to the agricultural industry.