“World Famous Is a Journey, Not a Destination.” Those wise words from fourth-generation Stemilt cherry grower Kyle Mathison are often used to explain that, in order to produce cherries with world-famous qualities, you must keep working at it – year after year, day after day, and cherry after cherry.
No one knows more about the journey to be world famous than the Mathison family. After all, they’ve been farming cherries on Stemilt Hill for over a century, and through the past five generations, have experienced much to help Stemilt evolve from a small company to an innovative and leading supplier of sweet cherries.
The year 1958 was not only a turning point for the Mathison family and their farming business, but the beginning of world-famous Stemilt cherries. After garnering a mere $88 on his 100-ton cherry crop, third-generation farmer Tom Mathison set out to turn around his family’s business. He followed the railcar carrying his cherries to the East Coast the next year, and quickly learned that his once-high-quality fruit had lost all luster and appeal during its journey to market.
Determined to fix this problem, Tom traveled to other cherry-growing regions to study the harvesting and packing practices of growers there. He returned home, implemented the practices, and started packing his own fruit to have control over the quality of fruit that went to market. The next year, Tom traveled with his cherries to the East Coast once again, and was thrilled to see the fruit “shining like rubies” at the market.
Today, Stemilt is a leader in sweet cherries because of the passion, persistence and innovation that Tom instilled in the company. His children and grandchildren are fortunate enough to carry on his legacy today, and just like Tom, their focus continues to be on flavor and innovation.
Whether it’s early-season cherries from California, or late-season cherries from the high altitudes of Washington state, one thing is for sure: The Stemilt team is constantly striving to grow cherries with world-famous qualities so that you enjoy a dessert-eating experience again and again.