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OCEAN MIST ARTICHOKES

Emily Balducci May 15 , 2017

In 1924, Daniel Pieri, Amerigo and Angelo Del Chiaro, Alfred Tottino and James Bellone launched the California Artichoke & Vegetable Growers Corporation, renamed Ocean Mist Farms in January of 1995. The five partners set up business in a wood and tin shed at what was then called Del Monte Junction. They leased some land about a mile south of Castroville - right where the Pacific Ocean coast meets the Monterey Bay - and began raising artichokes and Brussels sprouts. In those days and through the late 1930s, many ranchers had no electricity or telephone service. Business deals were sealed with a handshake or through contracts sent in the mail.

Today, 93 years later, Ocean Mist Farms is owned by four different grower- families but the Del Chiaros and Tottino’s are still involved in operations. The company is headquartered in Castroville, California and has expanded to become the largest producer of fresh artichokes in North America, supplying 90% of the country’s crop. They grow more than 30 premium fresh vegetables year-round in multiple growing regions throughout California, Yuma, Arizona and Mexico and have become leaders in food safety initiatives.  Ocean Mist’s Heirloom Artichokes are an early spring treat that grow not from seed, but from the original root stock brought here from Italy 100 years ago. They take longer to grow than regular artichokes, have fleshier petals and a more pronounced artichoke flavor.

               

No one would deny that Ocean Mist Farms is a huge commercial grower, but they operate with a small-farm mentality.  They prioritize environmentally responsible farming methods, employing water conservation and integrated pest and soil management techniques. Ocean Mists is also recognized for providing excellent working conditions and benefits to employees. They are active in Salinas-based food charities and donate to statewide food banks. The California Association of Food Banks has honored Ocean Mist Farms for donating more than 1 million pounds of fresh produce.

 

In their on-going effort to build and maintain relationships, Baldor’s buyers frequently visit Ocean Mist Farms. The owners themselves personally escort the Baldor team into the fields to survey crop progress and meet the harvesters.  Workers are always welcoming, stopping to chat and even offer a taste to the guests. It’s clear that Ocean Mist’s ‘love of the land’ ideology is embraced by all who work for this passionate and conscientious family of growers. 

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