It was a dark and stormy night and heavy sheets of rain fell across the Eastern seaboard, ruining produce fields and wreaking havoc on grocery shelves and dinner tables from New York to Canada. It was during this fateful storm in the early 1980’s that the seeds of Little Bear Produce were planted. Initially named J& D Produce after Jimmy and Diane Bassetti, Little Bear got its start when news of the fateful storm broke.
Jimmy’s father, “The Bear” Bassetti, happened to be a produce broker living in Vineland, New Jersey when the ferocious storm destroyed fields of produce all along the East Coast. When the storm hit, Jimmy was in South Texas on a three-day evaluation of the South Texas winter growing area. Upon learning of the storm’s devastating effects, his father asked him to fill customers’ orders with produce from the Rio Grande Valley. Jimmy filled two truckloads of some of the freshest, most delicious vegetables in the area and flew back to New Jersey to wait for the trucks to arrive. When the produce was delivered and distributed, “The Bear’s” customers were thrilled to have savory, beautiful greens to stock their empty shelves.
Jimmy saw lots more where those greens came from, along with other staples of the area including melons, peppers, onions and cabbages. It was clear that South Texas was a wonderful garden of opportunity. That’s when Jimmy began to hatch a big idea and decided to see if he could make it work. He and Diane threw together a few things, packed up Dylan the cat, piled into their Jeep and headed out for the fertile land near the Texas-Mexico border. They settled in Edinburg, Texas where they officially formed J&D Produce, Inc. and for two seasons operated as a buying broker. It was during these early days that the company formed lasting relationships with some of the finest growers in the country, who, like Jimmy and Diane, had found a piece of paradise in the Rio Grande Valley.
Apart from its year-round sunshine, the Rio Grande Valley is blessed with a rich, clay-based soil that is comparable to the fertile loam of the Nile River. The South Texas soil is rich with minerals, which creates high sugar levels that ultimately proved a bonus for consumers at a time when a new awareness of healthful eating was taking hold across the country.
Jimmy and Diane soon purchased a small packing shed in the Edinburg area and business took off. Despite several years of drought that forced other growers out of business, our company has been extremely fortunate to enjoy continual growth.
Over the years, the goal of our company has not changed. Our aim is not to be the biggest grower in the area, but to be the best. We view each season and every crop as an opportunity to harvest better, more healthful produce than ever before.
While we would be honored to answer your questions about our company and service, we feel that perhaps the best measure of who we are should be tasted, not spoken. Our product speaks for itself and we would be delighted to let our produce tell you more.