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In late 2017, actress and philanthropist Jennifer Garner and John Foraker, an investor and CEO, met to discuss a small but visionary business built around the idea of making food for kids with healthier ingredients. Once Upon a Farm was created by two San Diego entrepreneurs, Ari Raz and Cassandra Curtis, to develop fresh and nutritious cold-pressed snacks catering to early development.
The company’s mission proved a strong fit for Garner, whose partnerships with groups like Save the Children revolve around public policy and advocacy for families. “It just made sense to me,” says Garner, who serves as chief brand officer, noting that the Once Upon a Farm team has a “shared vision of a mission-driven company and food justice and making nutrition more accessible.”
Now, Foraker and Garner are part owners of the company whose organic products can be found via the direct-to-consumer Once Upon a Farm website and at such major retailers as Target, Whole Foods and Kroger. “We’re at about 1.5 percent household penetration in the U.S. now, which is pretty significant for a brand our size,” Foraker says, adding that the company is “the fastest-growing plant-based brand for kids in the U.S.”
In addition, Garner’s century-old family farm in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, is a small supplier thanks to her uncle Robert, who uses a biodynamic farming method to grow produce. Garner notes to The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s the very farm that my mom grew up on that inspired my work with Save the Children, that inspired me wanting to join a company that would help kids like the kids that Save serves.”
Curtis, the brand’s chief innovation officer, drives the product development side of the business, which moves pretty quickly from the ideation to sale stage — “within nine months or so,” Foraker says. The company’s most popular products offer a balanced mix of fruits and vegetables, like green kale and apple, and include brain-boosting ingredients like chia and hemp seeds.
“Our applesauce includes the skin because it’s a great probiotic,” Garner says, noting that it’s important to introduce new and fresh flavors to young children. “I’m so happy to be part of expanding their little palates.”
Garner says the choices the Once Upon a Farm team (all of who have children) makes — from recipes to packaging, and beyond — “all have to come from parents’ need.”
“This truly would have solved a problem for me as a young mom,” she says. “We started a whole new area of healthy snacking. There weren’t refrigerated fresh snacks, you could get cut-up apples or baby carrots, but we’re a whole new set in the grocery store, so we really did have to educate parents. We’re a really viable snacking option as well.”
The company’s cold-pressed smoothies, blends and meals are shoppable online through Whole Foods Market on Amazon and at the company’s own website, where its products are available as one-time purchases and subscriptions in boxes of 16 or 24 items. Below, shop some of the brand’s best-selling products.
If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.
Shop Jennifer Garner’s Once Upon a Farm Products
Once Upon a Farm Organic Green Kale & Apples
Once Upon a Farm Organic Strawberry Banana Swirl Dairy-Free Smoothie
Raised Real Raspberry, Sweet Potato, Ground Pumpkin Seed, Cardamom & Coconut Butter
Once Upon a Farm Farmers Finest Variety Pack
Once Upon a Farm Organic Strawberry Patch
Once Upon a Farm Organic & Dairy-Free Blueberry Overnight Oats
Once Upon a Farm Organic OhMyMega Veggie!
Once Upon a Farm Baby Organic Mango, Coconut & Carrot
A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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