Local farm makes food packages for customers across the country

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SAN DIEGO — As government officials at the federal, state and local levels warn people against leaving their homes due to concerns of new coronavirus surges, farmers are trying to make it easier for Americans to get the groceries they need without having to visit grocery stores.

California Avocados Direct in Escondido is making food packages and shipping them across the country. The local farming company specializes in avocados but also grows other fruits and vegetables.

California Avocados Direct has been in Ben Holtz’s family for many generations. Holtz is a fourth-generation avocado grower and started his company’s online business about 10 years ago so he could pack and ship avocados across the country.

“I’ve been doing this since I was 4 years old,” Holtz told FOX 5. “I grew up irrigating and fertilizing, checking the trees with dad. It’s just one of those things you grow into.”

The company usually sells avocados only, but it expanded its list of food options once the coronavirus hit the United States. It now makes about 25 different kinds of boxes that range in price, starting at about $20. “We have tangerines and oranges here on the farm. In addition, I started getting potatoes and onions to add in, and offered new variety boxes in the last week,” Holtz said.

The company quickly became busier than Holtz expected. “All of a sudden I started getting this uptick of online sales, so I started to pivot and said, ‘All right, I need to get more supplies and respond to this and meet (the) demand as it comes.’”

According to Holtz, orders have nearly tripled over the last two weeks, with the company shipping more than a thousand food packages nationwide. “This is just love. It’s love in a box, and it’s going out to America,” he said.

Most of the food inside the boxes are grown at the farm in Escondido. However, some items — like the potatoes, carrots and onions — are grown at other local farms.

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