Many of you are familiar with the Jackson family and their ever growing group of future “flavor farmers” and today, we are introducing Johnny Diepersloot.
He and his wife of 26 years, Susan [Jackson] Diepersloot, are also bringing up Kingsburg Orchards’ next generation of farmers. They have 4 children together, all of whom are involved in the day to day operations of the company/farms. Johnny D, as we refer to him in the office, comes from a family of dairy farmers and received his degree in Dairy Animal Science from Fresno State. Instead of pursuing a career on a dairy, he began managing farms for Kingsburg Orchards in 1986 and purchased his own farm in 1991.
With over 20 years of farming his own land under his belt, he continues to enjoy the challenges that come with every piece of land, variety or just the day. Plant science and working with a new variety is one of the tasks that drives his passion for farming; figuring out what will help a variety set better and how to maximize the flavor of the fruit. A few of the varieties that keep his days occupied are; Ebony Jewel Plums, the Jillie White Peach, named for his daughter, Jillian; Crimson Diamond, June Sweet and Crimson Sweet Nectarines plus his personal favorite the Gold Velvet Apricot. (That velvet series is popular) Even though technology has progressed in so many areas of farming, the diverse challenges that greet him every day offer him a reason to stay in the fields and put his experience and knowledge to the test; practicality versus textbook theory.
While farmers seem to be working 24/7, in Johnny’s downtime, he enjoys riding horses, missions trips and spending time with his family. He and his wife have a 24 year old daughter, Jillian, who works in our Marketing Department on special projects covering everything from customer requests, photography, recipe development, trade shows … Jillian’s list is endless. Their second child is Jake, 23, who recently graduated from Cal Poly with his degree in Ag Science and has been growing Candy Pearl White Nectarines for 5 years. Now that he has graduated, he is looking forward to working his ranch full time and planting new varieties. Zack & Caleb - the twins - are 19 and round out the Diepersloot clan; they both recently graduated from Central Valley Christian and will be attending Fresno State University in the fall majoring in Plant Science with a minor in Ag Business. The twins have always helped their dad in the fields and this summer, they will be spending time prepping and planting their own ranches.
Some of Johnny’s fondest memories are of his children helping him irrigate and playing in the mud; he smiles that “I love my kids’ smiles” when he reminisces about the kids squishing mud between their toes, mud fights and gets an even bigger grin when he says, “Jill, she was never too good at the mud throwing.” As I was talking with Johnny D about his career here, I was really impressed by his love of farming. When I asked, “If you weren’t farming fruit, what would you be doing?” He immediately responded, “I’d be on a dairy. Farming. It’s all I know.” He got that joyful smile that always perks up the office when he walks in; leaned back in the conference room chair with his hands clasped behind his head and laughed, “Yea, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing...”