In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we’re sharing the stories of women who grow Sumo Citrus and their unique connection to this legendary fruit. Although these aren’t the only women who grow Sumo Citrus, we’re inspired by their growing obsession. We’re also introducing you to the newest Sumo Citrus micro-farmer!
From honoring a loved one’s memory to leaving a legacy for the next generation to beginning a new backyard citrus-growing journey, these women inspire us with their commitment to cultivating and sharing the world’s most loved fruit. Read on for their stories.
Julie Imbimbo, Growing Citrus to Stay Connected to Her Late Husband’s Dream
Paradise Acres is an appropriate name for Julie Imbimbo’s Sumo Citrus farm in southern California. Julie — an original Super Fan of Sumo Citrus — started growing the fruit with her husband, Al, about a decade ago. But, in 2015, shortly before their farm’s first large-scale crop was ready to harvest, Al passed away of cancer.
“It was extremely important to me that this was his legacy,” Julie says. So, though it broke her heart that Al didn’t live to see their dream come true, she knew she had to carry on.
“I made the decision,” she says. “This was going to be my life — and our life — and my connection with him.”
Every time Julie sinks her teeth into the juicy, seedless fruit, she remembers why she does this work. And the taste is pure perfection to her.
“Once you try them… I’ve got people hooked for life on Sumo Citrus,” she says.
Julie knows that it’s hard to stop with just one Sumo Citrus, and she loves that the season is a reason to celebrate (and stock up)!
“It’s not just going to be out there all the time, and you miss that flavor,” she says.
What a great reminder to live in the moment and celebrate joy when you find it!
Kellie Neufeld, First-Generation Farmer Building a Family Legacy
Six years ago, Kellie Neufeld’s family bought a plot of land in the rural San Joaquin Valley in California. The farmland was plenty fertile but completely bare. Today, groves of Sumo Citrus trees stretch as far as the eye can see. Kellie and her family are in the fields day in and day out, year round, tending to the trees long before their super-sweet and enormous fruit ripens.
For Kellie’s family, their Sumo Citrus harvest is the most exciting time of the year. She brings donuts and cookies for everyone, the kids stay home to help out — and everyone hand-picks and then carefully packs the fruit. The work and love that Kellie and her family put into growing Sumo Citrus are evident in every juicy bite.
“It’s great to see what we’ve done this year, and to see it all culminate to that point,” says Kellie.
Kellie grew up in Orange County, but she fell in love with working the land when she fell in love with her husband, who was raised on a farm. After college, the self-proclaimed city girl moved to the country to grow citrus with her sweetheart. And now? She’s a farmer for life.
“Sumo Citrus is what we’re leaving behind,” she says. “It’s what we’re leaving to our kids.”
Jenna Fischer, the Only Backyard Sumo Citrus Grower
It was love at first bite for Jenna Fischer, the actress best known for her role as Pam on The Office.
Fischer, an avid baker and gardener, tried her very first Sumo Citrus a few years back — and she was hooked on the super-sweet, juicy fruit. Then last year, her annual habit turned into a full-fledged healthy obsession. Via her Instagram Stories, Jenna pleaded with us to let her add a Sumo Citrus tree to her backyard citrus grove. She and husband Lee were already growing grapefruit, figs, kumquats, Meyer lemons and apples. A Sumo Citrus tree would not only be appreciated, she assured us, but also well-tended. Even better? She gleans her excess fruit and donates it to food pantries so that nothing goes to waste!
“We’re here,” she told us. “We’re waiting.”
Jenna’s patience paid off. A few weeks back, we delivered Jenna her very own Sumo Citrus tree, along with careful instructions on raising this most delicate fruit. Although she’s just getting started, we can’t wait to see her newfound citrus-growing skills take root! Stay tuned for updates about Jenna’s growing journey, and be sure to check out her Office Ladies podcast, co-hosted by fellow Office alumna (and her BFF) Angela Kinsey!
Julie, Kellie, and now Jenna exemplify the hard work and passion required of growing Sumo Citrus, and we have them to thank for bringing more of this enormously delicious fruit into the world. Their commitment to raising this special fruit is inspiring, and it’s safe to say, the world is sweeter because of their work.