Southern Valley Produce's Shelby Rakestraw Talks Plans for Southern Innovations
- by Robert Schaulis
NORMAN PARK, GA - The Southeast Produce Council’s 2018 Southern Innovations Organics and Foodservice Expo is almost upon us, and long-time partners like Southern Valley Produce are gearing up to bring their latest and greatest innovations to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
I recently had an opportunity to talk to Shelby Rakestraw to learn more about Southern Valley’s plans for the second annual event—including plans to highlight a new website designed to give the company’s customers an even easier way to get in touch with the growing company.
“We’re very excited to reconnect with our current customers and partners, as well as meet new potential customers. A member of our team is on the SEPC board, and we love working together to influence the produce community,” Shelby told me. “We’re all very much looking forward to featuring our line of foodservice products and pack sizes, as well as discussing the new possibilities of moving toward organics.”
I asked Shelby about the company’s latest in a long line of innovations designed to service Southern Valley’s various retail and foodservice partners—the new southernvalley.us website.
“We decided to give our website a facelift and redesign due to our recent internal growth and expansion so that our customers and end consumers had a faster, sleeker, more modernized way to see who we are and get in touch with us,” said Shelby. “We’ve added the ability to sign up for our newsletter via the webpage, we’ve updated our leadership page, and we’ve built in functions on the back end of our site that will allow us room for more development and growth in the future.”
As a company deeply dedicated to innovation and giving back, Shelby noted, Southern Valley is ideally suited to pair up with the SEPC. From investments in the company’s workforce to initiatives in the communities it operates, Southern Valley is committed to the same community values that SEPC espouses.
“Just by looking at the values and mission of SEPC, it is clear that Southern Valley is equally devoted to educating and investing in our local community,” Shelby said. “We provide our community, from elementary school kids to adults, with the chance to tour and visit our farm and packing facility. In addition, we strongly believe in a well-trained workforce and in continuing to utilize innovative methods and approaches to provide premier service at every opportunity.”
Southern Valley is currently in its Tennessee harvest season, with plans to wrap up in late-October. And, Shelby told me, the company will begin its Georgia harvest in mid-September.
“Our list of products includes: pole-grown cucumbers, green beans, mini sweets, eggplant, bell pepper, squash and zucchini, cabbage, corn, hard squash, and cilantro,” said Shelby. “And we’re also transitioning into growing traditionally West Coast-grown produce—including broccoli, cauliflower, and green leaf lettuce—on the East Coast.”
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