March is the beginning of peak artichoke season and Ocean Mist Farms is supporting sales and celebrating the company’s 90th anniversary with multiple activities designed to generate sales and consumer awareness for fresh artichokes.
As part of the celebration, Ocean Mist Farms welcomed Chef Curtis Stone of Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters to its Castroville, Calif. farm for a field tour of the new Heirloom artichoke crop. Chef Stone brought his entire team from his new restaurant Maude to help prepare for their March menu that will feature artichokes in all nine courses of the fixed menu and will feature his visit on his popular blog.
“Ocean Mist Farms’ Heirloom variety has also been the variety chefs preferred for years,” says Kori Tuggle, director of marketing and business development. “Most chefs refer to this variety as the ‘red label’ referring to the red font color of our carton for the last several decades.”
The formal classification of an Heirloom fresh fruit or vegetable is any distinct variety that grows and has been in trade for more than 50 years using the same lineage; the family farmers of Ocean Mist Farms have been growing this Heirloom variety for 90 years. The HH Heirloom artichoke variety is a perennial plant that grows from original root stock that dates back to the start of Ocean Mist Farms in 1924.
Like a family recipe, this unique variety of artichoke grows only from the same root stock that has been passed down to each generation of Ocean Mist family farmers for more than 90 years — never from seed. Artichokes are such a strong part of California history that they were recently named the Official State Vegetable of California.
Peak volume of the Castroville Heirloom crop is March through May, Tuggle says, and all the Heirloom artichokes out of Castroville will be branded with a red PLU/UPC sticker to help consumers find the Ocean Mist Farms’ Heirloom variety.
“During the peak three months, we are focused on a multi-faceted promotional strategy with elements that include retail display contests, radio ads in Northern California, social media contests featuring the hash tag #heirloomartichoke that drive consumers to purchase, custom in-store point of sale, display bins and petal inserts. We will also activate geo-marketing with our emailed Arti-Alerts to promote with our artichoke club members when retailers have Heirloom artichokes on sale-specific to where shoppers live,” Tuggle adds.
Here are some photos from Chef Curtis Stone’s visit.