- Author: Brenda Dawson
While growing vegetables for the Great Veggie Adventure, at least one California farm found a new product to sell at its farmers market booths.
Valdivia Farms in Carlsbad normally grows heirloom tomatoes, baby squash and specialty bean varieties. But Ramiro Lobo, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor with San Diego County, asked them to try some colorful varieties of cauliflower, carrots and radishes as part of the Great Veggie Adventure.
Lobo worked with the farm to have a demonstration plot of rainbow-colored carrots, party-hued cauliflower, watermelon radishes and Romanesco as part of the UC Small Farm Program's work with the Great Veggie Adventure.
"After I had the samples I needed, I told them they could pick and pack the vegetables. They bunched all the different colors of carrots together," Lobo said. "I heard chefs in Los Angeles and Santa Monica markets wanted them, so they planted more."
Javier Valdivia, a supervisor at his father's farm, called the multi-colored bunches of carrots a "hot item."
He said they're still growing the purple, red, yellow and white carrot varieties, which can be grown almost year-round in the San Diego region.
Valdivia Farms sells at farmers markets seven days a week in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties. In addition to selling their specialty items at about two dozen farmers markets, they also sell wholesale and from a produce stand on the farm.
Lobo has been working with Valdivia Farms for about 12 years, growing trials there (blueberries, blackberries, dragon fruit, miniature melons) and sometimes answering their agricultural business questions.
"It pays for some of these farmers to try out new products. You never know what's going to spark interest," Lobo said. "Don't be afraid to try new things in small quantities and bring it to market."