Recently, we headed to Michigan, one of the country’s most agriculturally diverse states, to check out the seasonal vegetables grown by Mike Pirrone Produce.
Mike Pirrone Produce began in 1951 as a small mushroom farm and has since become a leading producer of Michigan-grown vegetables. Led by president and fifth-generation farmer Henry DeBlouw IV, Mike Pirrone Produce has grown and sold produce to Walmart stores across Michigan and throughout the Midwest for more than 15 years. Each season, Walmart customers can expect to find a variety of Pirrone produce in their local stores, including cucumbers, peppers, squash and, as fall approaches, decorative pumpkins.
This week, Henry DeBlouw, his uncle Jerry DeBlouw and Joe Pirrone, head of sales, gave an insider tour to Jack Sinclair, executive vice president for Walmart U.S. food; Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability; and others to see how local Michigan produce gets from the field to store shelves. Guests on the tour walked through cucumber, pepper and pumpkin fields as well as the farm’s state-of-the-art packing house, where the Pirrone team shared insights and obstacles related to the growing, packing and supplying process.
Following the tour of the farm, we stopped by the Walmart in nearby Clinton Township, Mich., where we saw firsthand the harvests from Pirrone, such as bell peppers and eggplant. Just in time for Halloween, stores in Michigan will soon begin carrying Pirrone’s signature heirloom pumpkins, gourds and ornamentals.
Customers can find green bell peppers and eggplants from Mike Pirrone Produce in several Michigan Walmart stores now; look for the photo of Henry and his grandfather!
We are proud of our partnerships with local growers like Pirrone and what they mean for our mission of helping people save money and live better. By purchasing directly from local farms, we are able to offer our customers a fresher, higher quality product, grown and picked with flavor in mind. Last year alone, we bought and sold more than $18.5 million of local produce from farms including Pirrone in our Michigan stores alone. That number will continue to grow, so that farms like Henry’s can keep growing, too.
What’s good for farmers and what’s good for our customers is also good for the planet. Buying local reduces transportation and packaging costs, supports local communities and cuts food waste. It makes sense and it’s part of how we do business every day.