Skip to content

Meet the HandPicked Vegetables Team

Josh Kirschenbaum - Business & Portfolio Manager Vegetables
Tuesday, June 28, 2022

As the HandPicked Vegetables® collection continues to find its way into the market and get into the hands of your customers, we continue to see how the market is changing with the times.

Josh K and Cheni F inspect a line of tomatoes.

Since the varieties in our HandPicked vegetable program are developed both for home gardeners and fresh market farms, we have seen change and growth in both of these market channels.

There are a tremendous amount of new home gardeners looking to grow their own food. For both new and well-seasoned gardeners, the amount of space that these folks have to garden is continuing to shrink, which means that the demand in compact varieties for both the patio or garden will continue to rise in popularity.

Little Bing Tomatoes on the vine

For example, Little Bing Tomato is a compact determinate plant with a tidy habit that yields large amounts of red cherry tomatoes for fresh eating. Patio Baby Eggplant is a unique, high-yielding, compact variety that produces baby-size eggplants very early and continues throughout the season.

For fresh market farmers, we are seeing more interest in novel/unique products that are eye-catching and great tasting. Novel varieties such as, DarkStar Tomato, showcases heirloom tomato flavor, a purple exterior, and modern hybrid tomato performance.

Candy Cane Chocolate Cherry Pepper is a unique variety for its sweet mini bell peppers that start out green with white stripes and mature to an interesting combo of chocolate and cherry red stripes.

For the future, we’ll continue to see development toward high-quality, disease-resistant varieties with wonderful flavor. This goes for both container and in-ground growing. Our focus will involve three main classes, which include: Basil, Peppers, and Tomatoes.

Be sure to check out Trailblazer Bell Pepper for 2023. It has high resistance to Bacterial Leaf Spot 1-3, 7 and 8.

Get to know us

With each of our team members, they all have a hand in what makes HandPicked Vegetables a fast-growing niche in the marketplace. Here’s how:

I’m Josh Kirschenbaum, the Business and Portfolio Manager.

Cheni Filios
is the Product Manager. She is responsible for bringing new introductions to market and managing the full product life cycle on existing crops.

Natasha Grosskopf
is the Trial Manager. Her responsibilities include coordinating our trials both at our “home research facility” in Elburn, IL, as well as other trial sites throughout North America and the world.

Sundrish Sharma
is our expert Tomato Breeder. He is responsible for developing high quality, innovative tomato varieties.

Hannah Swegarden
is our expert Pepper Breeder. She develops high quality, innovative pepper varieties.

Jhamna Magsig
is our expert Basil Breeder. She is responsible for developing high quality, innovative basil varieties.

Josh Cardin and Meg Makasiar are Breeder Technicians. Their responsibilities include assisting breeders in many different facets of research and development. 

For both hobby gardeners and those who supply fresh market farmers, you can find more information here and see a full listing of our HandPicked Vegetables collection.

A HandPicked team selfie among the tomatoes!

Article originally appeared on See website for complete article licensing information.