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She’s a Natural
Amy Berliner couldn't hold back the tears. Her graduation day had arrived. As she accepted her diploma from Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa on a perfect afternoon last month, her parents, Andy and Rachel Berliner, beamed with pride of a job well done. The Berliner family has two reasons to be proud: their daughter's graduation and the growth of Amy's Kitchen, the natural foods company bearing her name.
When the couple was awaiting Amy's birth in 1987, they decided to launch a company offering convenient, healthful and tasty frozen meals, with money earned going for their daughter's college fund.
Amy was learning to walk at about the same time Amy's Kitchen began taking its first cautious steps with one product--a vegetarian pot pie.
Today, Amy is preparing for college and the company she calls her twin sister has continued its surprising ascent to prominence.
"We had no idea that we would turn into a big company," Rachel Berliner said.
Amy's Kitchen has two plants in Santa Rosa and one in Oregon, with a combined 1,400 workers making 100 million meals a year. They now have 130 products, ranging from enchiladas to organic canned tomato soup. They use more than 24 million pounds of California organic produce and rice each year.
With a robust college account, Amy will be heading to Stanford this fall.
"When I got my acceptance letter, I was screaming, jumping around and dancing for three hours saying, 'I got into Stanford!' It's very exiting."
The entire family is preparing for a new chapter in their lives.
"Just yesterday she was a baby in my arms," Andy Berliner said. "My main goal for Amy is that she is happy in life and fulfilled."
As for the kid who launched a company, Amy said she needs some time to determine her college major--and possible future role with Amy's Kitchen.
"I'm grateful to my parents but also a little indebted," the 18-year-old said. "I actually think I'm no more indebted to my parents than any other child--they just happened to name a big company after me. In truth, we all owe our parents so, so much."
(Jim Morris is a reporter for Ag Alert. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Permission for use is granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation when reprinting this item.