A couple of weeks ago, I was a part of an incredible experience here in southern Oregon. I’ve lived in the Rogue Valley most of my life, almost 50 years (yes, this post dates me!), so when I was asked to be a part of Harry and David’s 2-day blogging event, I was thrilled.
Warm connections come when hospitality and nostalgia meet.
One of the things about blogging is that you meet new people all the time, and you learn so much about their lives. Here is the group that came, a few from afar, hanging out together as we toured the orchards. (Complete list of bloggers at the bottom.)
I’m going to walk you through the 2-day experience with Harry and David, but by the end of the event, I became a little teary-eyed. One, I was so impressed with the whole organization and how it’s run. Secondly, I have an aunt that devoted her entire life to Harry and David. She is still alive, in her 90s, and retired from the company. And thirdly, I loved the “family feel” that the staff at H&D relayed to us bloggers. My mom and her sisters worked in the H&D orchards while growing up. So when I talk about “family-feel,” I recall fond memories involving my own family members.
The first night Harry and David made it evident how much they love our valley, by inviting us to a farm dinner at Hillcrest Valley View Winery. It was a lovely sit-down dinner with many courses, fantastic H&D staff who joined us, and hours of eating, drinking, and learning more about each other (bloggers and staff) and the company.
I came away with these simple thoughts:
-They care about each and every pear and product they represent.
-They care about each and every employee who works for them.
-And they cared about us, as bloggers, and valued our opinions and experience.
Our first event during the daytime tour with Harry and David was a visit to the orchards. The beautiful Rogue Valley is full of Harry and David orchards and I was in awe, once again, at the beauty and heritage that we have here in southern Oregon.
I have a tasty recipe coming up on RE that features the Comice Pear, and did you know that their biggest crop is the Royal Riviera, which is a Comice pear? Many people don’t know the correlation between the two names.
Matt was so interesting. He’s Harry and David’s horticulturist and I must say, he was funny and delightful! And smart! Who knows what he thought of us bloggers, as we asked a zillion questions, but we loved him! He took us on a ride through the orchards to learn more.
Matt shared with us the ebb and flow of the orchards, the weather changes, the no-sleep-nights, of wondering if the hail and storms would ruin the 40,000 tons of pears that would eventually be harvested. (I am not sure I could handle his job!)
I looked at my photos of the ash on the pears and then remembered Matt letting us know that it was a spray on the organic fruit that kills the pesky pests.
I missed the pear packing part of the tour (just getting back from this trip, and getting ready to leave town for this trip), but I hear it was very informative: the way the pears are photographed over and over, checking for blemishes and imperfections (blemished pears are sent on to make juice), and how the perfect ones make it into the “gift baskets.”
Another part of the Harry and David tour was visiting the Candy Kitchen Product Development and Testing Lab. Greeted at the front door by Charlie, who’s been creating chocolates and treats at the factory for many years, was an aroma that about slayed us all–butter and sugar–one of my favorite smells in the kitchen. (Isn’t it ironic that his name is Charlie? We all thought of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!)
So we went on the sugary, sweet, yummy-smelling tour with Charlie ….
It was a delight to see so many workers smiling and loving their jobs. Who wouldn’t, working with so much chocolate and sweets?
Most people who think of Harry and David think of gift baskets, pears, and Moose Munch. We got to see the live production, and for a minute I pictured us all diving into a big pool of Moose Munch. That would have been heavenly. It’s one of my family favorites: Chocolate, caramel corn, almonds and cashews. And real butter. Delicious!
Charlie informed us that every bag of Moose Munch is bagged and labeled by hand. Love that personal touch! I’m always sending Moose Munch to my friend, Barb, who lives in WI.
I loved seeing the process of the Cinnamon Swirl.
Truffles, Baklava, cakes and … cheesecake. My daughter’s favorite birthday treat has always been Harry and David’s cheesecake!
So a trip through the orchards and a kitchen tour with Charlie, brought back the nostalgic feelings of love and heritage and a connectedness to a Rogue Valley icon, one dear to my heart, Harry and David.
Warm connections come when we share the warm, good feeling deep inside of something that means a lot to us.
Do you have a company in your town that brings you a warm nostalgic feeling? I’d love to hear what it is!?
Some of my new friends who toured Harry and David with me:
You can visit Harry and David’s website here. Harry and David provided lunch and dinner and several gift baskets, but they did not pay me to write this post today. You can visit al of my 31 Days of Warm Connections, at the bottom of THIS post.