MONTEREY, Calif. — At the Castroville Artichoke Food and Wine Festival, state and local officials honored Ocean Mist Farms for its 90 years in continuous business and its role in the community.
Castroville, Calif.-based Ocean Mist, which employs about 1,500, is the largest artichoke producer in the U.S.
Ocean Mist chief executive officer Ed Boutonnet and co-owner and grower Hugo Tottino made the artichoke what it is today in the marketplace, Monterey County supervisor Lou Calcagno said.
“They’re one of the largest contributors not only to the community of Castroville but to the county,” Calcagno said.
“We thank them for their service to the community, their generosity and of course the almighty artichoke,” he said. “Because without the artichoke we wouldn’t even know who Castroville is, and we wouldn’t even know what Monterey County is.”
State Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Amy Uber, senior agricultural economist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture, also honored Ocean Mist’s 90th anniversary.
A Castroville tradition, this year’s festival shifted to the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey May 31 and June 1. Besides live entertainment and fairground-type attractions, vendors offered artichoke-based meals including soup, cupcakes, burritos and barbecued sausage sandwiches.
Boutonnet recounted the 1924 origins of Ocean Mist as California Artichoke and Vegetable Growers Corp. Tottino’s father, Alfred Tottino, was one of five original partners.
“They leased some land about a mile south of Castroville and started growing and packing artichokes and brussels sprouts,” Boutonnet said. “In these early days and through the late 1930s many ranches had no electricity or telephone service, so much of the business was handled with a handshake or through the mail.
“Today, 90 years later, California Artichoke & Vegetable Growers Corp., now known as Ocean Mist Farms, grows more than 30 different commodities throughout California, Arizona and Mexico. And much of our business is still handled with a friendly handshake.”