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Coastal View Produce California Organic Asparagus

California Organic Asparagus from Coastal View Produce in the Salinas Valley is a sure sign Spring is here!  As the first golden rays light up the morning sky -on any given morning- you will find Ron Mondo out in the fields, meeting with supervisors and field operations managers. His is not a 9-5 job. Ron Mondo is a second generation farmer who grew up in Santa Cruz, California. Ron’s grandparents migrated from the Piedmont region of Italy known for its agricultural and wine production.  Growing up in Santa Cruz, Ron was surrounded by sunny beaches and the bountiful agricultural land of the Watsonville valley.  Ron learned all about being an environmental steward and protecting the land for the next generations from his father, the late John Mondo.

“One of my earliest and fondest memories, is riding in the truck with my father. We would go out and inspect the fruits of his labor. As I grew older, during the summer months, I worked in those exact same fields, learning all the basics of farming and techniques handed down from generation to generation”, states Ron Mondo.

In 2000, Ron partnered up with the Ippolito family and established Ippolito International on the west coast. In 2018, Ron took over the reins of Coastal View Produce from a longtime family friend, the Violini family, and ventured into the asparagus market.  For over 35 years Coastal View Produce has been growing high-quality, organic asparagus in between the Santa Lucia and Gabilan mountain ranges in the heart of the Salinas Valley.  The Mediterranean climate and fertile soil make it an ideal growing region for asparagus. The weather is never too hot or too cold, staying around 65-75 degrees.  Ron and his team are busy insuring the asparagus crop is tended to daily. Ron’s team is busy inspecting, harvesting, packing and shipping asparagus from sunup to sundown.  With over 170 acres of organic asparagus Coastal View Farms is committed to growing the asparagus category.

Coastal View Produce relies on a practical, yet holistic approach to keeping their farm sustainable.  This involves respecting the farmland’s surrounding ecosystems and unique biodiversities; managing inputs, including water, energy, and packaging materials conservatively while seeking to maximize the production outputs as efficiently as possible. This includes analyzing soils regularly and amending and fertilizing as needed; and using an integrated pest management system to limit what is applied to crops. 

Weather dependent, the season starts up in February and runs through July 4th.

Who we are.

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Our Mission

Earl’s Organic Produce promotes organic agriculture and a sustainable food trade while cultivating enduring partnerships with growers and customers.  We operate on the principles of innovation, education, and superior customer service to distribute premium certified organic fruits and vegetables to our diverse customer base.

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Our vision

Earl’s Organic Produce aspires to connect those who produce and consume organic food by creating mutually beneficial, meaningful, and committed relationships across the food chain. We seek to educate, excite, and evoke passion for the organic culture and continually evolve our business practices to both promote and meet the needs of the ever expanding organic industry. Furthermore, we are committed to discovering and implementing innovative business solutions in order to improve the social, economic, and environmental sustainability of our operations.

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Our values

  • Integrity: Our relationships are built on authentic mutual respect and our decisions are fueled by genuine sincerity.
  • Passion: We are driven by an intense enthusiasm for procuring and distributing premium certified organic produce.
  • Anticipation: We excel in our ability to communicate effectively with growers and predict the needs of consumers.
  • Service: We exceed expectations with a steadfast attention to detail and an unparalleled level of customer satisfaction.
  • Teamwork: We work toward a common cause by sharing our diverse perspectives internally and collaborating externally. Our success in solving problems and accomplishing goals is based on cooperation and interdependence.

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About us

  • We are an A to Z distributor of organic fruits and vegetables, carrying 475+ line items at any given time within our 30,000 square foot warehouse
  • We are the only CCOF certified organic handler on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market www.sfproduce.org
  • We are approved by the USDA/CDFA food safety audit program for Good Handling Practices.
  • Our fleet of trucks reaches from the California Central Coast to the California-Oregon border East to the Sierra Foothills.
  • As exclusive marketing agents for several California growers, our products are shipped across North America and Canada.
  • We have a staff of over 100 employees.
  • Management experience totaling over 150 years in the organic industry.

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History

earl-1977-san-franciscoOUR ROOTS

As Earl says, “It starts with the soil. If you take the time to care for it, work it, and turn it, the soil will work for you for a long time – not just this season.” Earl’s Organic Produce wasn’t built from a meticulous business plan or a grand vision. An authentic passion for food and pure, fertile soil together fostered what would become the leading regional distributor of organic produce.

In 1975, you could find our founder, Earl Herrick, at Fulton and 10th Street entrance to Golden Gate Park selling fruits and vegetables from a small converted beverage truck. Back then, produce was 5 pounds for a dollar and folks would flock from all over for his famous ugly orange – hideous on the outside, but heaven on the inside. At the intersection of several culturally diverse neighborhoods, Earl got a hands-on understanding of customer service. He recalls offering samples to a variety of customers, from tourists to residents, insisting that in such an engaging atmosphere, “if you weren’t an extrovert, you were done.” This experience served as the foundation of Earl’s produce education, which included a four-barrel coin changer as his cashier and the mild, overcast weather as his refrigerator.

Earl’s journey into fresh produce sales eventually brought him to a Marin-base natural market called Living Foods. There, he spent several years as a produce buyer learning the dynamic, daily operations of retail business and establishing relationships with organic growers who allowed him to buy directly from their farms.

With a dash of luck and chance timing, Earl took an opportunity to open a single stall on the San Francisco Wholesale Produce Market in 1988. Combining 13 years of retail experience, strong relationships with organic growers, and a passion for good simple food, Earl’s Organic Produce was born.

BLOOMING

As Earl found more growers committed to producing delicious sustainable crops and consumer demand steadily increased for organic produce, Earl’s Organic Produce grew as well. One part-time employee became several full-time employees and the he became “we”. In 1991 we outgrew the first stall and moved to a larger warehouse within the Wholesale Produce Market. By 1996 the space had doubled and three years later, we incorporated.

In 2006, we moved to a warehouse in the newer annex across the street from the original market. Eight years later we outgrew that space and moved next door into a larger 30,000 square foot facility. To maintain freshness and optimal flavor, we have four climate-specific coolers – cold and wet for broccoli and greens, temperate for summer vegetables and citrus, and extra cold for apples and berries – plus ample floor space for tropical fruits and tomatoes. Each evening our warehouse buzzes as the night crew receives new product fresh from the fields, palletizes outgoing shipments, and prepares our trucks for deliveries.

Moving into our new warehouse has enabled us to fulfill a long time goal of having our own banana ripening rooms. Earl’s Organic is the only organic wholesaler in San Francisco to have our own banana ripening rooms, allowing us to have full control of our banana program from start to finish, fulfilling the color needs of our customers. We source Organic Fair Trade bananas from Coliman in Mexico and truck them directly to our warehouse.

RIPENING

Today, Earl is still at the helm, infusing over 100 employees with his contagious enthusiasm and focus every day. Our staff comes from all branches of the organic industry and includes former farmers, retailers, and brokers. These diverse backgrounds help us navigate the ever-evolving organic produce industry, as well as understanding the unique needs of our growers and our customers.

We honor the organic farmers whose integrity, passion, and hard work continue to prove that organic agriculture is not a trend, but an economically viable and sustainable alternative to conventional agriculture. Likewise, we honor and value our customers – from restaurants to retailers – for their commitment to bring healthy and delicious organic fruits and vegetables to tables everywhere.

Earl maintains that this is not just his venture. Earl’s Organic Produce is an endeavor between the employees, the growers, and the customers to bring organic food to the people.

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Our Commitment to Sustainability

At Earl’s Organic Produce, we extend our commitment to sustainability beyond our organic products by practicing the three Rs – reduce, reuse, and recycle – in all aspects of our business operations. Below are several examples of ways we have lessened our ecological footprint:

  • Earl’s Organic is a Certified California Green Business
  • Waste Management – we compost and recycle in both the office and warehouse to significantly decrease landfill-bound refuse. Our diversion rate is 96%!
  • Prevent Food Waste- Donate over 250,000 lbs of produce yearly to organizations around the Bay Area including the San Francisco Food Bank and the San Francisco Produce Market Food Recovery program.
  • Pallet Reuse – we return pallets for reuse to decrease the amount of hardwood lumber harvested for pallet production.
  • Energy Efficiency – Earl’s Organic Produce is proud to be an inaugural member of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SPUC) Clean Power SF “Super Green” Program. Electing into the “Super Green” option means that our 30,000 sq. ft. warehouse is now powered by 100% certified renewable energy. With the Clean Power SF Program, Earl’s Organic Produce can now focus on reaching our goals of becoming a zero waste and carbon neutral facility. Watch the Super Green video here http://bit.ly/earlscleanpowervideo
  • Trucks- all of our trucks use biofuel
  • Warehouse
    • Automated high speed cooler doors saves money by opening and closing faster than traditional doors helping to keep temperatures stable. Less moving parts, lighter materials and self re-tracking doors make for a virtually maintenance free door system.
    • Energy saving high frequency smart chargers for all forklifts and pallet jacks. The technology charges the battery at the highest rate of power for the shortest time saving hours of charging time.
    • LED lighting with motion sensors through-out the warehouse.
  • Office Operations- we use 30% post-consumer content, chlorine free paper for all office printing and purchase planet-friendly office products whenever available
  • Green Cleaning – we use biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products throughout our office and warehouse
  • Organic Fabrics – all company garments are made from organic cotton and bamboo cotton
  • Education – we are a source of information to our growers, customers, and the community regarding organic produce and sustainable agriculture
  • Participation – we are proud members of the San Francisco Produce Market Green Team

Enroll in the Super Green Program to help the City of San Francisco reach its goal to be 100% renewable powered by 2025.

Earl’s Organic Produce is proud to be an inaugural member of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (SPUC) Clean Power SF “Super Green” Program. Electing into the “Super Green” option means that our 30,000 sq. ft. warehouse is now powered by 100% certified renewable energy. We have long awaited the opportunity to increase Earl’s renewable energy use. With the initiation of the Clean Power SF Program, Earl’s Organic Produce can now focus on reaching our goals of becoming a zero waste and carbon neutral facility.

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Industry Involvement

As we understand the importance of a vibrant organic trade community, we have formed partnerships with and are very proud sponsors of the following organizations:

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In addition, we actively support each of the following organizations/enterprises:

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Staff

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Employment- We Are Hiring!

We are currently hiring Class A Delivery Driver. Click here for the listing.

We are currently hiring Regional Class A Delivery Driver. Click here for the listing.

We are currently hiring Class B Delivery Driver. Click here for the listing.

We are currently hiring Order Pickers. Click here for the listing.

We are currently hiring Warehouse Receiver. Click here for the listing.

 

Earl’s Organic Produce provides a highly competitive compensation package, including medical, dental, vision, LTD and voluntary life, plus a company-sponsored retirement program. Earl’s Organic Produce is an Equal Opportunity Employer. We work to embrace diversity in all its forms and strive to be an inclusive community that fosters an open, enlightened and productive environment. Pursuant to the San Francisco Fair Chance ordinance, we will consider for employment qualified applicants with arrest and conviction records.

We’re always happy to hear from those with experience and talent in the following fields: purchasing, sales, accounting, office management, warehousing, and trucking.

Interested candidates are encouraged to submit an Earl’s Organic job application, cover letter, resume, and three references via email to HR@earlsorganic.com or come directly to

Earls Organic Produce
2101 Jerrold Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94124

Coastal View Produce California Asparagus

We have been eagerly awaiting the beautiful bunches of green stalks with purple tinged tips. The height of the season in California runs from March to June.  California asparagus is mainly grown at the confluence of California’s two greatest rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, in the rich peat of the delta lands an hour south of Sacramento and in the Salinas Valley about 2 hours south of San Francisco. California produces over 70 percent of the nation’s fresh market asparagus.

Asparagus is a perennial crop producing year after year. The crowns are planted in long beds deep in the ground.  New hybrid varieties can produce for a few weeks after a year in the ground and older varieties may take up to 3 years to produce. Once the plant is established, it can produce for 10 years or longer. The stalks only turn green when they are exposed to the sun and develop chlorophyll.  Did you know?  As the weather warms, a single asparagus spear can grow anywhere from 6 to 10 inches in a single day!

California Coastal View Produce Asparagus Grown in Gonzales

When you’re ready to eat them, snap or cut off the white portion of the butt end of the asparagus. They’re perfect coated with olive oil and roasted, which leaves them firmer, nuttier and sweeter than steaming.  Asparagus is high vitamin C and K and folic acid and contain less than 50 calories per 6 oz serving.  Click here for more recipes.

Farm Visit to Asparagus Grower Coastal View Produce

Beautiful green stalks of asparagus can grow an amazing 6 to 10 inches in a day. A small group from Earl’s Purchasing, Sales, Marketing and Quality Control departments visited Coastal View Produce to see exactly what an asparagus farm looks like. CVP is located in Gonzales, CA about 2 hours south of San Francisco.

Asparagus field

Rows of asparagus stalks extend far into the distance.

Brian Violini, a third generation farmer has been growing delicious organic asparagus in the Salinas Valley for over 40 years. His grandfather, a Swiss Immigrant, worked on a dairy farm in Salinas valley back in 1918 when he was just 20 years old. “I can remember being 10 years old and pulling weeds and moving sprinklers for my grandfather,” says Violini, who now runs Coastal View Produce with his brother. “The main thing we’re known for is asparagus,” says Violini. “We started with organic asparagus, when I was in high school.” Violini attributes the consistent high quality of his crop to the mild Salinas weather in the winter and spring. “It’s not too hot, not too cold—it stays around 65–75 degrees.

Michael Stewart and Jacob Levy- Sales Associates, Robert Lichtenberg Director of Purchasing and Brian Violini from CVP

Michael Stewart and Jacob Levy- Sales Associates, Robert Lichtenberg Director of Purchasing and Brian Violini from CVP

Our tour started off as we piled into Brian’s truck and headed out to the fields for a look. As far as the eye could see were rows of asparagus. These particular fields were at least 6 years old which means that the plants can be harvested multiply times during the season which runs from March to June.  A younger plant will be harvested a shorter time so the plant can store energy from the sun and have a better production the following year.  A plant is never harvested from the same cut.  A new stalk will grow from a new “eye” of the crown.

Asparagus crown www.rochedalecommunitygarden.net.au

Asparagus crown
www.rochedalecommunitygarden.net.au

The lifecycle of an asparagus plant starts from the crown that is planted a few inches deep in the ground.  The crown can grow up to a few feet long over the life of the plant, which can last up to 12 years in a commercial farm setting.  The first year is a waiting game as the crown establishes itself in the ground. The second year the plants may be harvested only once or twice. Then they will be allowed to go to fern to produce chlorophyll to grow the crown.  The older the plants are the longer the crowns become and the wider the rows of dirt are in the field.  At the end of each season the plants go to fern to replenish the nutrients for the following year’s production.

Crowns can grow a foot long

Crowns can grow a foot long

AsparagusFernMilduraVictoriaAustralia

Asparagus Ferns
www.wikipedia.com

Workers will strap baskets to their waist and using a sharp knife cut asparagus from the base of the stalk. Once the baskets are filled they will empty them and start over. From the field the asparagus is brought in bins to the packing shed where they are rinsed, trimmed, sorted by size and then packed in neat bundles. The size of the spears comes from the age of the plant and is a personal preference. The youngest plants produce the skinny stalks. The thicker spears from older plants are said to be more succulent because they contain higher levels of carbohydrates. You decide, but make sure to look for blemish free asparagus with tightly closed tips and avoid wilted looking stalks.

Try to eat them as soon as you buy them but you can store them upright in the refrigerator in a dish of water or wrap a damp towel over the ends and store in a plastic bag. When you’re ready to eat them, snap or cut off the white portion of the butt end of the asparagus. They’re perfect coated with olive oil and roasted, which leaves them firmer, nuttier and sweeter than steaming.  I also like to peel the larger sizes into thin strips for a raw salad or piled on top of a pizza. Asparagus is high vitamin C and K and folic acid and contain less than 50 calories per 6 oz serving.

Asparagus pizza

Pizza topped with raw asparagus

Coastal View Produce Asparagus

Spring seems to have arrived early this year. We received our first shipment this week of California grown asparagus from Coastal View Produce. We are proud to have been working with CVP for 8 years. Brian Violini and his family have been growing organic asparagus for over 40 years in the Salinas Valley. Brian’s Grandfather was a Swiss immigrant who started a new life in the fertile Salinas Valley.  “I can remember being 10 years old and pulling weeds and moving sprinklers for my grandfather,” says Brian, who now runs Coastal View Produce with his brother. “We’ve had this farm for three generations. My grandfather started with a dairy and then moved into farming. My dad and my uncle ran the farm after him, and now it’s me and my brother. Farming, it’s all we know.”

California produces over 70 percent of the nation’s fresh market asparagus with over 20,000 acres, followed by Michigan and Washington. The height of the season in California runs from March to June.  California asparagus is mainly grown at the confluence of California’s two greatest rivers, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, in the rich peat of the delta lands an hour south of Sacramento. Salinas Valley, the Central Coast, Coachella-Imperial Valley area and Santa Barbara County are also considered prime growing areas. Asparagus was originally planted in the delta region in 1852 but the interest in growing asparagus commercially wasn’t until the early 1900’s.

Fun Fact:

Asparagus is a perennial crop producing year after year. The crowns are planted in long beds deep in the ground. As the weather warms, a single asparagus spear can grow anywhere from 6 to 10 inches in a single day.

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How to store and eat asparagus

Try to eat them as soon as you buy them but you can store them upright in the refrigerator in a dish of water or wrap a damp towel over the ends and store in a plastic bag.

When you’re ready to eat them, snap or cut off the woody white portion of the butt end of the asparagus. They’re perfect coated with olive oil and roasted, which leaves them firmer, nuttier and sweeter than steaming.  I also like to peel the larger sizes into thin strips for a raw salad or piled on top of a pizza. Asparagus is high vitamin C and K and folic acid and contain less than 50 calories per 6 oz serving.

Catch Earl this weekend on An Organic Conversation for his update on asparagus, kale and avocados. Learn more about the life cycle of asparagus and how it is picked and packed into beautiful uniformed bunches in a future blog.

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