Four Winds Growers, a fourth-generation, family-run business in Watsonville specializing in citrus trees, has seen major growth in sales since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Aaron Dillon, who runs the business with his siblings, says that the surge is likely due to people who are at home during shelter-in-place looking for something to do in their houses and gardens.
“This season has just been bonkers,” he said. “We didn’t experience quarantine like many other people did. We just kept working, hardly keeping up with it.”
Four Winds Growers specializes in hundreds of varieties of dwarf and semi-dwarf citrus trees, which can be grown in containers—no yard needed. This includes oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, grapefruits, kumquats, mandarins and many other unique varieties not commonly sold in grocery stores.
In addition, they sell other types of fruit such as olive, avocados, berries and vine plants.
Dillon said that despite the pandemic nearly wiping them out of stock at the beginning, he is excited to see more people taking on things like gardening, especially growing their own food.
“People have spent time in their yards like never before,” he said. “Lots of beginning gardeners are getting their first taste of the experience. In difficult times like these… I think people are discovering the importance of home food security, being able to grow what they eat.”
And the high sales have not just been local. People from all over the U.S. have been purchasing trees online from Four Winds Growers, as well as contacting the business for advice. Dillon says it’s been “fascinating” to chat with people who live in a different region, often with a completely opposite climate.
“I think as people who live in California, we take our climate for granted,” he said. “Now we’re selling to customers all over the country… working with someone growing in Detroit, Michigan, coaching them to baby their trees through the brutal winter. It’s really been neat to connect with those customers and feel their passion.”
Dillon’s biggest piece of advice for new growers? Consistency.
“You have to have a level of consistency to your gardening routine,” he said. “Water on a regular schedule. Also, it’s good to buy fruit trees early. If you see something available, get it! There is no guarantee it will be there later… especially these days.”
Four Winds Growers only had minimal damage from the recent heatwaves and fires. Cooler temperatures—though not as cold as this time last year—have helped steady things since. In general, Dillon said, it’s been a good growing year.
Currently, the business is heavy into production and propagating the future crop, replenishing and preparing for next year. Dillon says they are optimistic about 2021, thought they are still trying to manage the swell in demand.
“Industry-wide, the demand is high. We are not alone in that,” he said. “We are dealing with live plants, we can’t just crank them out. These trees usually take between six months to a year to propagate… It takes time to get them back in stock.”For information visit fourwindsgrowers.com.