Califonia Bountiful

A taste of summer available year-round

For many, a juicy California peach is a symbol of summer.

For many, a juicy California peach is a symbol of summer. Thanks to a Fresno County business, this fragrant fruit is available 365 days a year.

Wawona Frozen Foods in Clovis was started by Earl Smittcamp in 1963, and has grown to become America's largest frozen-peach processor. Every season, its 1,000 employees handle 70 million pounds of peaches. The fruit is used in dozens of products, including ice cream, pies, yogurt and millions of servings of peaches for the school lunch program.

Bill Smittcamp now presides over the company his father started. Every summer, Bill and colleagues head to the farmers' market in downtown Clovis and hand out thousands of free samples of their peaches.

"We love getting out and letting people sample our new products," Smittcamp said. "It kind of gives us a handle on how they'll do in the market for our other customers."

Bill and Carol Chandler of Selma operate one of the 80 family farms that grow peaches for Wawona. The Chandler family has been farming in California since 1889, and the peach is clearly a favorite of the current generation.

"They are attractive to people and they will draw your eye," Carol Chandler said."They are a beautiful symbol about what's best about California agriculture."

Sixty percent of the nation's peaches are grown in California. Peaches are America's third most popular fruit.

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