The family farmers of Ocean Mist Farms, the largest grower of artichokes in North America, have been growing heirloom artichokes for more than 90 years in Castroville, California (The Artichoke Capital). Here is our Heirloom story….
California’s History with Heirloom Artichokes
The Heirloom artichoke is the “original” variety of artichoke brought to California in the early 1900’s by Italian immigrants. Long time artichoke growers refer to an Heirloom artichoke as the classic Green Globe variety. It is the variety the U.S. fresh artichoke industry was built upon and until about the 1990’s-was the only variety being commercially grown.
Artichokes are such a strong part of California history that in 2013 they were formally proclaimed the Official Vegetable of California.
What is different about an Heirloom variety Artichoke?
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 family farmers for more than 90 years— never from seed.
The heirloom artichoke variety is a perennial plant that is re-grown from original root stock that dates back as far as the 1924 with Ocean Mist Farms. Some of our perennial plants are as old as 20 years.
What makes Heirlooms better than other varieties?
When Heirlooms are available, they are the best eating artichoke. What makes them taste so good is that these perennial plants take longer to grow (9 months) than other varieties grown from seed. By growing slowly during the winter months, the Heirloom artichokes get a thicker center heart and meatier petals with an intense flavor.
Seasonality of Heirloom Artichokes
After growing all winter long, spring is the peak season for heirloom artichokes: March–April-May.
Where do Heirloom Artichokes grow?
99.9% of the US Artichoke crop (all varieties) is grown/produced in California. However, when it comes to the Heirloom artichoke 95% of this total crop is grown within the region of Castroville, California. Ocean Mist Farms grows 90% of the US Heirloom artichoke (Classic Green Globe) variety.
Castroville, California located along the Pacific Ocean’s Monterey Bay is the artichoke capital of the United States, home of the annual Artichoke Festival and has the perfect climate for growing heirloom artichokes.
How do I know I’m buying an Heirloom Artichoke?
- Consumers & Artichoke Fans: Look for the red sticker that says “Heirloom Artichoke”
- For Retailer Partners/Produce Managers: Connect with your Ocean Mist Farms representative for crop updates and availability. This volatile crop can change with the slightest weather change.
- For Chefs: Heirloom variety has been the variety chefs preferred for years; chefs refer to the variety as the “red label” in reference to the red label color on the carton they are field packed into.
Where can I buy Heirloom Artichokes?
If you are traveling along the Northern California Coast between Half Moon Bay and Monterey Bay, often you will find roadside produce stands selling Heirloom Artichokes when in season.
- Grocery Stores: Click here for a list of our Retail Partners that commonly carry Ocean Mist Farms Heirloom Artichokes when in season.
- Heirloom Artichokes on sale: When in season, click here for a list of current stores with our Heirloom Artichoke on promotion or a “special buy” by U.S. Region.
- Artichoke Sale Email Alerts: To receive email blasts when Heirloom Artichokes are on sale in your region: Join our Artichoke Club