Meet Donald and Mike Valpredo, the father and son team behind Country Sweet Produce and the Bako Sweet brand. They farm over 1,200 acres of sweetpotatoes—about of half of which are organic—along with onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and melons.
Although they have about 30 staff members, make no mistake—this is totally a hands-on, family farming situation. “We’re really out there and enjoying it as much as people hope their growers are,” says Mike. “We’re walking the fields and watching the whole process from start to finish. It’s the real deal.”
One of the things that’s a little unusual about Country Sweet is where they’re located—south of Bakersfield. While still in California’s Central Valley, that’s quite a bit south of most California Sweetpotato growers. The area is what inspired the Bako Sweet name, “Bako” being a local nickname for Bakersfield.
“We knew sweetpotatoes grew well here because years ago, in the 1960s and 70s, others had grown them,” Mike explains. “But when we started, there really wasn’t anyone else doing it, which made it fun and a little bit of an adventure.”
What does Mike like best about farming sweetpotatoes? “I really enjoy watching their popularity grow. It’s very rewarding to see people eating sweetpotatoes in so many ways, all months of the year.”
We couldn’t agree more.