Gold Coast expands cauliflower production

2222 Gold Coast Packing, headquartered in Santa Maria, CA, began its spring transition from the desert to coastal California in mid-March with its typical array of vegetables, though the company has increased its cauliflower production for spring/summer harvest.

Marketing Coordinator Crystal Chavez said the growing popularity of cauliflower is undeniable. The vegetable is being used in many different ways as a substitute for pasta, pizza crust and even steak, and Chavez said it is difficult to keep up with demand. In 2019, the cauliflower rose to dizzying heights and though it hasn’t been quite that “hot” in several months, she said sales have been brisk.

The Santa Maria growing region, which is on the California Coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles, has fairly mild weather throughout the year, allowing for year-round production of some crops. However, Chavez said Gold Coast does shift much of its production to the warmer California/Arizona desert regions in the winter.

“For most of our crops, we will be transitioning back here over the next couple of weeks,” she said from the company’s main office on Friday, March 13.

The region had a couple of good rainstorms earlier that week, which were expected to be very beneficial for the late-March harvest.

A few days later, Gold Coast announced it was officially launching an after-school program, Fantastic Fridays, to bring fresh vegetables to children throughout the Santa Maria Valley. Every Friday, the grower-shipper is delivering 200 to 250 pounds of fresh produce to schools in the Santa Maria Bonita School District and the Guadalupe Union School District. Along with leaving enough produce for the children to take home, Gold Coast is sharing vegetable trivia to educate the students on how crops, such as broccoli and cauliflower, are grown locally in the Santa Maria area.

“Our goal for this program is to get fresh vegetables directly into kids’ hands, and we wanted to do it before the weekend to ensure they could take product home and share with their family,” said Chavez. “We understand not every child has access to fresh produce at home, so we hope that through Fantastic Fridays, we are able to give kids healthy options that will lead to a healthier lifestyle as they grow.”

With support from the local YMCA and Boys & Girls Club, Gold Coast had visited nine school sites within the two school districts, donated 1,434 pounds of fresh vegetables and shared fresh produce education with nearly 800 students since the Fantastic Fridays program began in November 2019.

“It is great to see the kids so excited to learn about the products that are grown right here in Santa Maria,” said Chavez. “They see the fields all across the valley, so to be able to educate students about how the most common produce items are grown and how it gets from the field to their school salad bar or their own dinner table is awesome.”

Gold Coast plans to continue Fantastic Fridays for years to come and roll out several programs with the local Boys & Girls Club and YMCA during the summer months.

(Gold Coast Packing recently launched Fantastic Fridays, a program that educates children throughout the Santa Maria Valley on the importance of produce.)

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