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   Faye Westfall Leading Southeast Produce Council
by Doug Ohlemeier,
Posted: Tuesday, October 3, 2017 at 9:01AM EDT

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC – Faye Westfall is the new chairwoman of the Southeast Produce Council and the second woman to lead the organization.

Westfall, sales manager of the Riverview, FL-based DiMare Fresh-Tampa Inc., is a tomato sales veteran and a longtime council board member and volunteer.

During a Sept. 29 dinner meeting at the Southern Innovations Organics and Foodservice Expo at Hilton Head Island, SC, council chairwoman Teri Miller, the council’s first woman leader, passed the gavel to Westfall. Miller, a retail merchandising veteran and senior category manager at The Fresh Market, based in Greensboro, NC, worked in accounting before entering produce.

“Each of you helped me in a way that you can’t possibly imagine,” says Miller. “I didn’t know produce and you helped me.”

Westfall thanked Miller for her council leadership. “I can’t tell you how excited and humbled I am to have this position,” she says. “It is an awesome opportunity. This is the best organization in the industry.”

In 1991, Westfall entered sales when Paul DiMare, president of the DiMare Co., purchased the J.C. Valenti Produce Inc., tomato repacking company on the Tampa Wholesale Market. At Valenti, Westfall ran the production line and worked in other positions since the early 1970s.

At the council, Westfall leads the Southeast Training Education Program for Upcoming Professionals, a retail and foodservice training program nicknamed STEP-UP which is in its eighth year. She also assists with the Southeast Top Agricultural Recruits Scholarship program, which is called STARS.

Westfall first became involved with the council in 2004, the year it sponsored its first Southern Exposure spring expo. She has also served as Southern Exposure show chairwoman. “I would serve in any way I can and in any capacity for the council,” says Westfall.

For Westfall, the council is like kin. “It’s like a big family,” she says. “We get together and do an event like a reunion. We help each other. It’s not like individuals working for themselves. It’s all about helping the industry and the communities we are in.”

Westfall remains proud of the council’s community and social involvement, which includes programs such as the Rockin’ Appalachian Mom Project (RAMP) produce donation program. The effort supplies people in areas such as rural Kentucky where destitute people find little nutritious food.

A Ruskin, FL, native, in the heart of Florida’s spring and fall tomato production, Westfall worked other jobs before entering produce. “You can’t get out of produce,” she says. “I’ve tried other work but I keep coming back to produce. It’s like a family reunion every time we have an expo.”


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