Bill Chandler – Retired California Cling Peach Grower and Board Member
Bill Chandler knows agriculture; he has been in the business for more than 45 years as a grower and an experienced voice on the California Cling Board. Chandler’s career in farming began in 1965 when he took over the land his grandfather bought in the 1880s, making Bill Chandler a third-generation farmer. In addition to the three varieties of California Cling Peaches and the nine varieties of freestone peaches that the Chandler land produces, also grown on the farm are nectarines, plums, wine grapes, raisin grapes, and almonds.
When asked about defining what is most rewarding about working in agriculture, Chandler responds quite simply that harvesting a good crop, stewardship of the land, and making ends meet are among his greatest accomplishments in farming.
When prompted to describe a typical day on the farm during harvest, Chandler describes a day filled with activity from start to finish. Days begin at 5 a.m. and commence quickly with a worker meeting at 6 a.m. Chandler then monitors the harvest until workers leave around 2:30 p.m., when he then follows his peaches to the packinghouse or cannery to check grades. After the day’s harvest is complete, it is back to the farm to tend to bookkeeping.
Challenges always accompany rewards, however, and Chandler explains that the increasing cost of labour as well as labour shortages, government regulations, and mounting global competition have made staying in the business of agriculture more difficult than ever.
“It’s more critical than ever before to have the support of the school foodservice market,” Chandler stresses. “As a grower and a grandfather, I know firsthand how good our peaches are for kids. Canned peaches are one of life’s simple pleasures that just happen to be good for you too! And I think that, sometimes, we lose sight of this just a little bit.”
After many years of the Board, Chandler retired from growing cling peaches in 2012.