The History Behind Hungenberg Produce
In 1904 Emily Hungenberg’s husband passed away. She picked up everything she owned, which wasn’t much, along with her 3 boys, Fred, Edward, and John, and She left Tuscarora, Nevada and moved to Greeley, Colorado. She bought 7 acres of land in 1907, and the Hungenberg’s began farming in 1908. Edward was young, but worked hard growing sugar beets, among other root crops. As time passed, Fred and John showed little interest in the farm – leaving the farm work to Edward. Edward married Ruth Baker on May 29, 1926 – and had 2 boys of his own, Don and Ken Hungenberg. Edward added another 10 acres, and added onion sets, watermelons and cantaloupes to his farm. Struggling through the Depression, they managed to add a few more acres – selling vegetables on a road side stand, and keeping the unsold produce in a dugout to be sold later in the year.
Through the late 30’s and 40’s they added a few more crops – sweet corn, cabbage, radishes, a few rows of red beets, and turnips. In the late 40’s, Edward and Don narrowed their crops to a few weather dependable and resilient crops, including carrots. Edward built his own packing house and began packing his own produce. This was when stores began buying directly from producers, saving Edward transportation time, and increasing revenue. Most every piece of produce was sold in bushel baskets.
Don tells stories of his earliest memories – killing bugs in the field by hand, picking weeds by hand, and shooing grasshoppers with sticks. The land was worked behind his horse “Mod”, but in 1944 the Hungenberg’s bought their first Ford tractor.
Don Married Bea Frye, and had 3 boys – Mike, Paul, and Bill. Ken and his wife Barbara had 3 children – Scott, Kay, and David. They all started working together under the name of Ed Hungenberg and Sons, and then as Hungenberg Bro’s until 1974. That year, Don and Ken split their operations.
Don wanted expansion, and Ken did not. Don and his 3 boys stayed in Greeley and Ken moved to LaSalle. Don’s 3 boys helped farm, especially Mike, who had inherited his uncle Ken’s mechanical abilities – Mike has built and designed the layout of Hungenberg Produce processing facility. Don wanted expansion, but wasn’t sure how to expand until Paul and Mike’s ambition’s took charge.
Paul Hungenberg, Don’s middle son, attended Eastern Washington on Basketball Scholarship. He emerged from college with a new appreciation for his heritage, and put his business management degree to work in 1978 – when he joined the farm once again.
The farm had grown to over a thousand acres by this time. Crops harvested in the late 70’s and 80’s were mainly comprised of Carrots, Cabbage, and Onion sets. Tractors and technology made farming less labor intense over time, but farming in Colorado presented its own challenges – weather, production costs, and water availability.
Bill Hungenberg, Don’s youngest son did not pursue a career on the family business, and took to a career in education.
Hungenberg Produce was incorporated in 1986. Shortly after, Hungenberg Produce jumped onto the new trend that has changed the carrot industry forever – baby carrots.
Hungenberg Produce now farms around 4000 acres comprised of Carrots, Cabbage, Onion sets, and rotation crops of pinto beans and shell corn.
Learning how to grow, and process baby carrots is an art. You have to have the right soil type, proper seed, a great deal of water, and most importantly the proper technique.
In 2003 Hungenberg Produce moved to a new 100,000 + SQ FT processing facility, tripling the amount of carrots processed per year.
Over the years, Paul and Mike struggled, and learned, and struggled, and learned some more – always paying close attention to the quality of their produce. After 30 years of growing and packing carrots, Paul and Mike progressed, developed, and improved their methods, and now they are teaching the next generation.
Paul Hungenberg had 4 children, Jared, Jason, Jordan, and Kathy Hungenberg. Jared, Jason, and Jordan have all worked for Business degrees – graduating from University of Northern Colorado.
Today, Jordan has headed up the food safety and works in sales also. Jason is in the head of Sales, while Jared works mainly in the field programs.
Proper rotation of crops has become essential to growing carrots. Having proper soil – sandy loam, grows perfect carrots, but rotation is vital to replace nutrients. The splendid Colorado summer consist of warm days, and cool nights, which can condense the sugars – which is why Colorado carrots taste sweeter than any other carrot in the world.
Founder, Don Hungenberg has since retired, and spends his days playing golf, and checking up on the business he built – making sure his children, and grandchildren are working hard.
Today, Hungenberg Produce ships carrots and cabbage all over the United States. Buying Colorado grown carrots and cabbage promises you are receiving premier vegetables grown in the best methods from our field to your table, in the freshest manner possible.