Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist Farms is celebrating 90 years of growing and marketing artichokes as well as other vegetables.
Above-average winter temperatures means the grower-shipper’s spring crop of heirloom variety artichokes will start early — about the first week of March — and ramp up to heavy volumes the last two weeks of the month, said Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development.
The variety is referred to as heirloom because it comes from a perennial plant that dates back to Ocean Mist Farms’ founding in 1924, when it was called the California Artichoke & Vegetable Growers Corp.
Much like a family recipe, the rootstock has been handed down from generation to generation of the founding families, she said.
Peak volumes of the Castroville heirloom crop will run through May, and Ocean Mist will brand it with red Price Look Up and Universal Product Code tags or stickers, Tuggle said.
“Ocean Mist Farms’ heirloom variety has been the variety chefs preferred for years,” Tuggle said. “Most chefs refer to this variety as the red label, referring to the label color of our carton for the last several decades.”
During the season, the 40,000 or so members of the grower-shippers’ Artichoke Club will receive weekly e-mails with retail ads specific to their region letting them know where they can find heirloom artichokes, she said.
Ocean Mist Farms shares the same messages with its more than 11,600 Facebook fans as well as followers on other social media.
As part of its yearlong 90th anniversary celebration, Ocean Mist Farms will conduct several retail activities, such as display contests and online consumer giveaways, Tuggle said.
A highlight will be at the annual Castroville Artichoke Festival on May 31-June 1, where Ocean Mist Farms will be honored for its service and support of the Castroville community since 1924, she said.
Since 1959, the festival has showcased the artichoke with cooking demonstrations, food booths, art competitions, car shows, parades, music, field tours and festival mascot Arti the Artichoke.
But the festival isn’t the only organization honoring Ocean Mist Farms.
The grower-shipper received the Large Business of the Year Award from the North Monterey County Chamber of Commerce Feb. 1.
Dale Huss, vice president of artichoke production, accepted the award on behalf of Ocean Mist Farms.
In making the presentation, Denice Barker Amerison, executive director of Artichoke Festivals Inc. and the chamber, credited the grower-shipper with “90 years of quality, commitment and service to the consumer and first-class community involvement,” she said in a news release.