You wouldn’t know from looking at him that Jack Smith—here with his wife Jo and their trusty sidekick Darcy—used to be an accountant. In fact, Jack spent most of his professional career in an office building in Southern California.
But his background and degree are in agriculture. And eventually, his East Texas beginnings lured him back to the land. Today, along with his partner J. Michael Hennigan, Jack owns Quail H Farms.
“Working in the valley has given me the opportunity to regain a style of living that’s more in line with my roots,” Jack explains.
Quail H Farms grows sweetpotatoes on about 1,000 acres in and around Livingston, California, with 30 to 35% organic. They also sometimes grow winter squash and carrots, and are also a sweetpotato shipper—meaning they pack and ship sweetpotatoes year-round.
You’d think that’d be plenty to keep him busy, but Jack and Jo also raise almonds in Winton and grapes back in Texas. AND they have a blended family of eight kids, ranging from 20 to 33 years old. (So far, none has chosen to pursue farming, but as Jack knows too well, that can change.) When they’re not traveling to visit kids or friends, Jack and Jo love virtually any extreme outdoor sport—including snow skiing, dirt biking, and surfing—and do as much together as they can.
Even though he has a varied background and interests, Jack’s favorite thing about California’s Central Valley is pretty simple. “The people here are hardworking, honest, and are contributing to the needs of people all over the country—and abroad.
“It just feels good to feed people.”