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Lakeside Organic Gardens eyeing continued growth

Lakeside Organic Gardens is a prominent leader in the organic category, with its largest selling commodities being broccoli, cauliflower, celery and kale.

“We are the largest family-owned and operated solely organic vegetable grower/shipper in the United States,” said Marliese McWherter, creative marketing manager for the Watsonville, CA-based company. “We have been growing 100 percent organic for 22 years. In terms of annual yield, it depends on Mother Nature of course, but we look to increase production every year.”bozkee

As the organic category has grown substantially over the last 10-15 years, Lakeside Organic Gardens has also seen significant growth.        

“The company is successful in organic farming because Dick Peixoto, grower and owner, is hands on in all aspects of Lakeside’s farming operation,” McWherter said. “He is responsible for annual crop planning, walks his fields daily and works very closely with harvesting and quality controls crews. Dick also believes in allowing Mother Nature to run its course.”

As all growers in the area know and understand, California’s microclimates play a major role in year-round production as the soil is the heart of production. “We farm the soil and the soil grows the crop,” said Peixoto.

For 2019, things are looking good, with McWherter noting volume is strong and everyone at the farm is expecting a healthy season.

“Overall we are seeing great growth. We follow the markets and adjust accordingly,” she said. “We also listen to consumer demand and plant accordingly in regards to volume and new items. We are having great success with Romanesco, sweet baby broccoli, watermelon radishes and most recently we are growing Nantes carrots and purple Brussels sprouts.”

While growing methods haven’t changed much, Lakeside is trying to automate as much as possible to make things easier and increase production even more.

“We automate as much of our operation as possible, weeding, thinning, harvesting and more,” McWherter said. “We put a lot of passion and love into growing fresh, beautiful, healthy organic produce. We harvest and ship the next day. Shipping quality, fresh product next day is something we take pride in.”

At the retail level, McWherter knows that quality is key and feels that as long as retailers understand that, sales of organic produce will increase.

“When product starts to age at the store level, it’s best it gets rotated out,” she said. “The demand for organics is rising and we only expect that trend to continue in the years ahead.”

The realization by many consumers of how important organic produce can be for health has been a major driver on the increase of the category and it’s a marketing platform that the company has been trying to tout heavily.