Howdy y’all. I hope your July is off to a fantastic start! I’m super excited to finally share some of the details and highlights of my trip last month to Monterrey, California. My amazing friend, Abby Langer (in the middle of the below photo), actually won a recipe contest with Ocean Mist Farms Artichokes, and she was kind enough to invite me on the trip she won! Beth Atkinson with DMA Solutions (on the right in the below photo) did a phenomenal job of providing Abby and I with 3 days worth of artichokes, artichokes and more artichokes. Keep reading for all the scoop!
Before I go into all the fun trips details, make sure and check out Abby’s winning recipe!
Ocean Mist Farms has been growing artichokes for more than 90 years! We got to visit some of the fields in Castroville, California, and I will never look at artichokes the same! I learned so much about how they grow, how they’re harvested and even got to attend the Artichoke Food and Wine Festival. And in case you were wondering, yes, Ocean Mist Farms is recognized as the largest artichoke operation in the United States.
Instead of going on forever with tons of information, I want to let the pictures tell most of the story. All photos were taken by the fabulous, Abby Langer.
I was in absolute awe of the fields. I sure hope I get the chance to go back!
Aren’t they just beautiful? Artichokes are actually the bud of the plant and at full maturity, they turn into a gorgeous purple (non-edible) flower. Larger artichokes grow on the top and smaller artichokes grow towards the bottom. This was mind-blowing to me, as I assumed there were “large” artichoke plants and “baby” artichoke plants, but that isn’t the case. They have primary (the largest), secondary and tertiary buds, so those adorable “baby artichokes” you see in the grocery store are actually just tertiary artichokes!
Standing in a field with an abundance of artichokes has me convinced they’re one of the most beautiful crops. Speaking of beautiful- look at those inner petals and the heart. Gorgeous!
Artichokes are harvested by hand and watching this process was both humbling and mesmerizing. Harvesters walk through the fields wearing “canastas” (basically a backpack), cut the mature artichokes and effortlessly (or so it looks that way) toss the artichoke in the canasta. But here’s the deal- the canastas can weigh up the 100 pounds when full and the whole process requires strength, attention to detail and skill. Mad props to both the harvesters and for Ocean Mist Farms because they take excellent care of all their employees. Isn’t that an awesome picture? Abby got so many great shots, but that one is definitely my favorite!
Ocean Mist Farms actually grows more than 30 fresh vegetables and they were kind enough to send me a care package with lots of goodies after the trip. Check out this Berry Broccoli Brussels Salad with Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette!