Veteran Vidalia onion grower John Shuman, president and CEO of Shuman Farms in Cobbtown, GA, was recently named 2020 Vidalia Grower of the Year by the Vidalia Onion Committee.
According to Committee spokesperson Anna Lee Porter Novelli, John is being honored “recognition of his more than 25 years of contributions to the industry.”
She wrote, “Shuman Farms is one of the largest growers of Vidalia onions. John Shuman took over his family farm in the early 1990s and rebuilt it from the ground up following the national farm crisis of the previous decade. In addition to his dedication to the farm, John Shuman also founded what is now known as the Healthy Family project, which has raised more than $7 million to benefit children and families and gives annual donations to Feeding America and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation on behalf of Shuman Farms.”
Shuman Farms is one of only 60 registered growers that hand-cultivates Vidalia onions in 20 South Georgia counties each year, and “John Shuman plays an essential role in providing sweet Vidalia onions to chefs and consumers across the U.S. and Canada during the season from April to August,” she said.
In its press release announcing the award, the Vidalia Onion Committee noted that the second-generation farmer is “following in the footsteps of his father, Buck Shuman, who began growing Vidalia onions in the 1980s.” John graduated from Georgia Southern University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has served as VOC chairman, chairman of the board of the Southeast Produce Council and a member of the Georgia Ports Authority Board of Directors.
Aries Haygood, chairman of the VOC, said, “In the last quarter century, John has played a leading role in building the Vidalia onion brand to become the country’s most iconic vegetable.
In a statement provided to OnionBusiness by the company, John Shuman commented, “The company continues to be a leading grower, packer, and shipper of Vidalia® sweet onions, Shuman Farms continues to bring innovative, sales-driving marketing programs to retailers. The company’s award-winning, innovative marketing programs are a recipe for success at the retail level – meeting demand and driving sales.”
Shuman further noted, “Our RealSweet® brand has become one of the most trusted brands in the industry, providing consistent, premium quality sweet onions to consumers year-round while holding true to Shuman Farms’ core values of quality, service, innovative marketing, and giving back,” Shuman said. “Of the industry’s 10,000 total acres of Vidalia onions for 2021, Shuman Farms overall acreage will be 2,200.”
Shuman added a note of thanks in the Vidalia Committee’s press release, “I am honored and humbled to be recognized by the Vidalia onion industry to receive one of our highest awards. I have been fortunate to have had the support of my wife, Lana, as well as the advice and counsel from some of the most respected Vidalia onion growers in the state. As you know it takes a village to do what we do, so this award goes to everyone at Shuman Farms. I want to especially thank my brother Mark for his dedication and leadership.”