A few months ago, we had the absolute honor of spending a day with the family farmers that supply us with our delicious organic avocados, and we are thrilled to share details of that trip with you today! This is a story of family, of legacy, and of perfect produce. So make a quick plate of avo toast, settle in, and come with us on a visit to our organic avocado farm.
Arturo Vasquez started picking avocados in 1959, when he was ten years old. He would place the fruit, from trees in the family’s yard, in a Red Flyer wagon and cart it from door to door. The going rate: ten cents a piece, or twelve for a dollar. His best customer was the mother of the girl he’d later fall in love with and marry, who said that little Arturo’s Fuerte avocados were the tastiest, creamiest, butteriest avocados she’d ever tried.
Today, Art owns the land in Azusa, California, that his childhood home was on—and much more. “I never dreamed then that one day I’d own the mountain with all the avocados,” says Art, “but here we are.” He started with a two-acre plot in 1981; the Vasquezes picked and packed on the weekends and sold mostly to restaurants, while Art maintained his business in auto mechanics. Twenty years later, he bought 120 more acres and left the shop for the fields full-time.
Since production has ramped up, Rancho Vasquez avocados have developed a cult following. While they’re best known for Fuertes, they also grow Haas and Lamb Haas in commercial quantities. The farm received its CCOF organic certification in 2007, but the land has always been organic, because Art follows the traditional farming methods he learned from his grandfather.
Rancho Vasquez now has a history that spans five generations. Three of Art’s children and a cousin all have homes on the land, and now ten grandchildren contribute to the operation as well, with the littlest ones helping transfer the avocados from field bags to buckets. Sometimes, though, Art jokes, it can be hard to tell who’s who. “The night before our first pick of the season, I didn’t get any sleep. I was so excited. Just like my grandbabies on the night before Christmas.”
With harvest in full swing, the Vasquez family keeps busy picking, packing and labeling the fruit. Family names, not numbers, distinguish the rows, with charming hand-painted signs marking the groves. The oldest trees still bear almost one thousand pounds of fruit each year, and at 140 years old, are true heirlooms.
As many family farmers across the U.S. worry about the future, Art has great confidence in his legacy. “Rancho Vasquez will keep growing the best avocados for years to come.”
Now that you’ve had a visit to our organic avocado farm, want some avo-inspired recipes? Check out these Citrus Salad Stuffed Avocado Cups or Savory Scrambled Egg Crepes with Avocado Pico de Gallo.