LoBue Citrus is celebrating its 80th anniversary by doing something it has gotten pretty good at over the years — giving back to the land.
“The LoBue family has always been focused on giving back,” said marketing manager Paj Ann Herr.
Nov. 1, the company will kick off a promotion with Katie’s Krops that will encourage youngsters 9 to 16 years old to help homeless and low-income families by planting gardens and donating the bounty to local families in need, churches, shelters and soup kitchens.
From Nov. 1 through January, the firm will donate a percentage of sales from every case sold to the nonprofit organization, up to $15,000.
Katie’s Krops was established in 2008 in Summerville, S.C., by then 9-year-old Katie Stagliano after she donated a massive, 40-pound cabbage that she grew from a seedling to a local soup kitchen, where it fed 275 people.
The organization provides grants to youngsters throughout the U.S. to help them start their own gardens.
Katie’s Krops “empowers youth to give back to the community and fight hunger one garden at a time,” Herr said.
So far, 80 gardens have been planted in 29 states, Herr said. The goal is to have 500 gardens in 50 states by 2018.
To support the program, LoBue Citrus will provide point-of-sale signage, ad slicks and social media content for retailers and public relations with the trade media.
The company also will have a dedicated page on its website.
The LoBue family knows something about planting gardens, said Jennifer LoBue, domestic sales manager.
The company was founded by Italian-born Philip LoBue, who arrived in the U.S. in 1914.
He planted a 10-acre orchard in San Jose, Calif., where he grew cherries, prickly pears and vegetables.
In 1934, he made a down payment on a 40-acre grove near Lindsey, where he set out to plant oranges. When he became ill, his sons Mario, Fred and Joe took over the operation and launched LoBue Bros. Inc., now called LoBue Citrus.
By 1938, the family decided to pick, pack and sell the fruit themselves and were so successful that friends and neighboring growers asked them to sell their oranges for them, LoBue said.
A new packinghouse was built in 1946. It was remodeled in 1968 but burned down shortly thereafter only to be rebuilt the following year.
The company has added pummelos, mandarins and grapefruit to its product line, and several family members continue to work there, including president Philip LoBue, son of Mario LoBue.