OXNARD, Calif. — From new construction to a growing organics program, Deardorff Family Farms has big plans for 2012, its 75th anniversary year.
A 115,000-square-foot packing, warehouse and storage site, under construction for just over a year, is expected to open in April, said Scott Deardorff, partner.
It’s at 400 N. Lombard St. in Oxnard, Calif., where the grower-shipper is based.
“We’ll be moving our tomato line into that facility, and we’re working on some exciting packaging opportunities with tomatoes and other commodities that we’ll announce later,” Deardorff said in mid-February. “We’re significantly increasing our cooling and cold storage capacity.”
The site will be LEED-certified for sustainability and have up-to-date warehouse management, refrigeration, food safety and loading systems, he said.
There are also plans to add marketing personnel.
Moreover, sales growth in the Deardorff Organics label launched in January 2011 is prompting the grower-shipper to expand its partnership with Salinas, Calif.-based Crown Packing, owned by the Bunn family. The company began marketing organic celery and leaf lettuces grown by Crown Packing last July.
“We’ll have some broccoli from the Bunns in mid to late March, under the Deardorff Organics label,” Deardorff said. “Our program with them will increase over the summer.”
Deardorff Family Farms has grown organic celery and tomatoes for about four years. With the introduction of its organic label, vegetable commodities including romaine, leaf lettuce, spinach, cabbage, bok choy and broccoli were added to the mix.
“We’ve had great customer growth on organic. Right now we just need more supply,” Deardorff said. “We’re transitioning more farm ground into that production.”
One 70-acre ranch is still about a year and a half away from organic certification, a process that takes three years. The broccoli there is grown organically, but can’t yet be marketed that way.
For this year, the grower-shipper is adding about 40 leased acres in the Oxnard area.
“We’ll plant that in July for a late summer, early fall harvest,” Deardorff said.