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Meet the Founders

Meet the Founder: Peter Karpushin of Marmalade Grove

Peter Karpushin of Marmalade Grove

Labor shortages and supply chain issues left Peter Karpushin with more fresh fruit than he could possibly sell. So, when life gave the Ukrainian-born farmer too many tangerines, he made marmalade. 

Marmalade Grove turns Ojai Pixie Tangerines into pure bottled sunshine. Sweet, tangy, and bursting with brightness, every jar is handmade — with love — to make your day.

Recently we caught up with Peter to learn more about his journey and hear his advice for fellow entrepreneurs. 

Marmalade spread over bread slices

1. Why did you start Marmalade Grove?

Marmalade Grove emerged from a crisis. Our marketing company dropped us at the height of the pandemic and supply chain issues left us with over 200,000 pounds of tangerines. 

We weren’t alone. Hearing how our neighbors had to leave tens of thousands of pounds of fruit on the ground stirred us into action. Citrus farming already comes with razor-thin margins — most farmers couldn’t afford to lose their harvest and pay pickers to harvest their fruit for donation. On top of everything, the donation centers were flooded, and transportation was at a bottleneck.

The year we started Marmalade Grove, the market was flooded with a tangerine boom crop from nearby Central Valley. There was too much fruit and too little demand. We were told that nobody would come to harvest our tangerines, so we ordered a 40-foot refrigerated container to save what we could. We also used laundry baskets to collect our Pixies for marmalade. 

Six weeks later, we launched Marmalade Grove, and the rest is history!

2. What obstacles did you face along the way?

We moved here from the Ukraine 30 years ago and purchased a farm in our pursuit of the American dream. We’ve experienced entire countries falling apart. So, while this news about our fruit was unwelcome, we took the crisis head-on.

In the first months, we looked ridiculous. We washed hundreds of pounds of tangerines in our kitchen and dried them in laundry baskets outside before packing them for shipment. We called 45 packing houses to help us pack our fruit independently, all of which turned us down. Eventually, we partnered with a former beet packing house, and with their help and the help of our team of farmhands, we’re now fully independent.

Now, we’re fortunate enough to partner with Bristol Farms, bringing our marmalades to a much larger audience.

Our handmade marmalades are always made with our fresh citrus using a 100-year-old recipe. They’re nothing like a traditional marmalade and offer a much brighter, lighter, California-inspired pallet. We’re excited for you to taste the warm and bright flavors of the California sun!

marmalade grove

3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Ignore traditional boundaries, be open-minded, and surround yourself with people smarter than yourself. Learning from your own mistakes is costly, so be sure to ask questions and listen.

Remember, it’s your dream, so you must fight for it and remain kind along the way. You’ll gain more from cooperation than you will through force.

4. What’s on the horizon for Marmalade Grove?

There is an incredible bounty in Ojai and the land has so much more to offer. We’re excited to share new, harder-to-find citrus varieties and make exotic marmalades to inspire your senses. We’re also working on new products to help heal our land and support our community. In our eyes, California has the same potential as Italy and France for making artisanal products at the highest level, and we have some sensorially delicious items on the way.

We want to make products that help you discover a life of abundance, pleasure, and health with Marmalade Grove.

marmalade grove jars hanging from grape tree overhang

5. How do you keep a work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?

We live in paradise. Getting to work in such a beautiful, natural setting always makes me feel like I have work/life balance. 

I find inspiration in the nature around us. I’m also inspired by the hard work of our team. The men and women who farm our land, pick and pack our fruit, and stand by us as we grow this new legacy are very inspiring.

We’re building a shared dream in our beloved valley. Everything here is grown and made by loving hands — and we hope that you can taste that in everything we make.

Meet the Founder