Everything You Need To Know About How Leafy Green Vegetables Are Grown In California

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Everything You Need To Know About How Leafy Green Vegetables Are Grown In California

February 19, 2024
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Everything You Need To Know About How Leafy Green Vegetables Are Grown In California

Everything You Need To Know About How Leafy Green Vegetables Are Grown In California

California’s fields are alive with the hue of vibrant, leafy green vegetables. Here, in the Golden State, leafy greens flourish under the warm sun. The goodness of the sun gives us the crispness of lettuce to the rich textures of kale and spinach. Our fields are the heart of where freshness meets flavor, showcasing our state’s commitment to nourishing, delicious produce.

What Types of Leafy Green Vegetables Grow in California?

Honestly, there is no real way to offer a definitive list of all the leafy green vegetables that grow in California. Why? – because it’s a whole bunch. However, we can name quite a few.

In California, the range of leafy greens grown is extensive. Think lettuces like iceberg, romaine, green leaf, red leaf, butter, oak leaf, and Lollo Rosso. And think cabbages, spinach, various types of kale, Swiss chard in green, red, and rainbow varieties. Then there are collard greens, and mustard greens, including both red and green varieties, as well as arugula, bok choy, watercress, endive, escarole, frisée, radicchio, tatsoi, mizuna, beet greens, and turnip greens.

When Are Leafy Green Vegetables in Season in California?

California leads the nation in production of head lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, endive, and many other leafy greens. Lucky for all of us that leafy green vegetables are always in season in California! And since the Golden State is responsible for 90% of the leafy greens and lettuce sold in the United States, there is a good chance that the greens hiding out in your crisper drawer were grown right here.

Where Are Leafy Green Vegetables Grown in California?

Different lettuce and leafy greens varieties are available virtually year-round in the Golden State. Peak season in the cool, coastal Salinas Valley runs from April through October. Southern California’s warmer Imperial Valley harvest runs from November through March.


Delicious and Easy Leafy Green Vegetable Recipes You’re Going to Love!

Seeing as California grow so many leafy green vegetables, it only makes sense that we know a thing or two about the best ways to serve them. Keep scrolling for inspiration!

A collage with images of recipes with leafy greens.

Eat Your Leafy Greens – With This Fabulous Leafy Green Recipe Round-Up

There are so many delicious ways to enjoy leafy greens. From breakfast smoothies to flavorful fall salads, we share some of our favorite recipes starring leafy green vegetables in this CA GROWN recipe round-up.

Click here to see these recipes for yourself.

Vessey Family Easy 7 Layer Salad

This 7 Layer Salad recipe skips the frozen peas and eggs (but keeps the bacon!). It features fresh veggies available year-round from California. This layered overnight salad is endlessly customizable, making it a fabulous option for meal prep and a crowd pleaser too!

Click here for this recipe made with leafy green vegetables.
A cast iron skillet with the finished Melting Napa Cabbage recipe. It is garnished with cilantro and edible flowers.

Melting Napa Cabbage

Rich and garlicky with a sultry, robust flavor and just a hint of spice, our Melting Napa Cabbage recipe is easy to make. Better yet, it tastes like it slow braised in the oven all day!

Click here for this recipe made with leafy green vegetables.


Meet Jack Vessey of Vessey Farms, a Leafy Green Vegetables Farmer.

Nestled in the heart of the Imperial Valley lies Vessey & Company, a beacon of agricultural innovation and dedication since 1923. This farming family grows 40 different types of fruits and vegetables using conventional and organic farming practices.

Where is Vessey & Company Located?

“We’re in the beautiful Imperial Valley, in the small town of Holtville, California, and here at Vessey & Company, we are mainly leafy green vegetable growers.” – Jack Vessey

Fun fact: Holtville, California is known as “The Carrot Capital of the World.” In fact, the town celebrates with the annual Carrot Festival (typically in February). It includes a carnival, parade, carrot cook-offs, and more carrot-inspired fun for the whole family!

The Imperial Valley region, a lush oasis in the desert, thrives as a cornerstone of production for leafy green vegetables. It supplies a whopping 90% of the nation’s greens in a mere 50 to 100-mile radius.

We asked Jack to tell us a little bit about this region. “The Imperial Valley is a huge agricultural region that has effects on the state and nation, even internationally. I think it’s really cool that it’s a garden in the desert. If you come visit, whether it’s from the east, west, or north you’re going to drive through a desert, and all of a sudden, you’re going to drop into fields everywhere, he explains.

“It’s pretty amazing to see the things that we’ve done here, and if you think back 130 to 140 years ago, this was just all desert, and now it’s a huge agricultural region. We serve billions of salads a year just off our own farm, right? One of the things I always tell people is that, we’re your winter source for leafy greens…we’re not growing hot Cheetos for your kids, we’re growing medicine. And that medicine that we’re growing, this is where you’re going to get it in the wintertime, I think it’s very important for the health of America, to do what we do here in the Imperial Valley.” says Vessey.

The Vessey Legacy: Four Generations of Farming Excellence

Jack Vessey, a fourth-generation California farmer, shares a profound connection with the land and a passion for agriculture that’s deeply rooted in family tradition. “I’m a fourth-generation California farmer…It’s all I’ve ever known; it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. To be able to be in this business in California ag, you have to have a major sense of passion and pride and it’s something you have to want to do day in and day out. Every day is different, every challenge is different, and every year is different. We’re learning something new about the crops we grow every year based on how we grow them, timing, varieties, seed varieties, and bed configuration; we’re always challenging ourselves to do a better job and it makes it interesting day in and day out,” Jack reflects. His words underscore a legacy built on dedication and a deep-seated love for farming.

Innovative Practices: Cultivating Sustainability at Vessey & Company

At Vessey & Company, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a way of life. Innovative water conservation techniques and crop rotation practices ensure that every resource is cherished. This is a lesson Jack learned from his father over two decades ago. “My dad, 20, 25 years ago, sat down with my ranch manager and I and said, you know, water is a special resource that we really have to be considerate of. He highlights the farm’s commitment to responsible agriculture explaining, “We really looked at how we farmed and how we farm these crops and how we can get better, and really by focusing on how we’re going to save water helped us, you know, it’s kind of interesting, it helped us build yields and do a better job of some of the ways we grow our leafy greens.”

Challenges and Rewards: The Realities of Farming

Farming is a labor of love, fraught with challenges yet immensely rewarding. Jack shares insights into the daily hurdles and the relentless pursuit of excellence that defines Vessey & Company. “Every day is different, every challenge is different…we’re learning something new about the crops we grow every year,” he says, painting a picture of the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of farming leafy green vegetables.

A Community Effort: The Heart of Vessey & Company

Beyond the fields and crops, Vessey & Company stands as a testament to community and family. “We’re a team, we’re a family…it really takes a group of people to do what we do,” Jack emphasizes, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the entire Vessey team. This sense of community extends beyond the farm, with Vessey & Company playing an active role in local organizations and initiatives.

Vessey says,“My grandfather and my dad, especially my dad, really taught me that the community is so important, the people you surround yourself with and being supportive of the community. I think maybe sometimes we stand out because of the support we give to local organizations, from FFA to the food bank to the local 4 H and other various organizations.”

Looking to the Future: The Next Generation of Farmers

Jack’s hope for his children and the next generation of farmers is clear as he looks to the future. “You have to want to do this,” he says, acknowledging the challenges and profound satisfaction of farming.

Jack says, “My dad really pushed me to go study something else in school and to maybe do something else. And now that I’m getting to an age where my children are preparing to go off to college, I see where he was coming from. You have to want to do this. You can’t wake up and not want to do this. It’s very time-consuming. It’s very mentally demanding. You’re in a risky business. There’s a lot of things that are out of our control. So yeah, I mean, I want my kids to know that the world’s open to them to do what they want, but this is here for them if they want to do it.”

Jack’s ultimate goal is to sustain the business for future generations, ensuring that the legacy of Vessey & Company and its contribution to agriculture continues.

Vessey & Company and the Fabric of California Agriculture

Vessey & Company embodies the spirit of California agriculture: resilience, innovation, and deep roots in the community. Through our interview with Jack Vessey, we gained insight into the meticulous care and dedication that goes into growing leafy green vegetables, a vital component of our diets. As consumers, supporting California farmers like Vessey & Company means enjoying fresh and nutritious produce and contributing to a sustainable future for agriculture.


This article was written by Meg van der Kruik. Photo credit James Collier for California Grown.

Click here to view the Google Web Story for this post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

« Back to CA Grown Blog

Everything You Need To Know About How Leafy Green Vegetables Are Grown In California

California’s fields are alive with the hue of vibrant, leafy green vegetables. Here, in the Golden State, leafy greens flourish under the warm sun. The goodness of the sun gives us the crispness of lettuce to the rich textures of kale and spinach. Our fields are the heart of where freshness meets flavor, showcasing our state’s commitment to nourishing, delicious produce.

What Types of Leafy Green Vegetables Grow in California?

Honestly, there is no real way to offer a definitive list of all the leafy green vegetables that grow in California. Why? – because it’s a whole bunch. However, we can name quite a few.

In California, the range of leafy greens grown is extensive. Think lettuces like iceberg, romaine, green leaf, red leaf, butter, oak leaf, and Lollo Rosso. And think cabbages, spinach, various types of kale, Swiss chard in green, red, and rainbow varieties. Then there are collard greens, and mustard greens, including both red and green varieties, as well as arugula, bok choy, watercress, endive, escarole, frisée, radicchio, tatsoi, mizuna, beet greens, and turnip greens.

When Are Leafy Green Vegetables in Season in California?

California leads the nation in production of head lettuce, leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, endive, and many other leafy greens. Lucky for all of us that leafy green vegetables are always in season in California! And since the Golden State is responsible for 90% of the leafy greens and lettuce sold in the United States, there is a good chance that the greens hiding out in your crisper drawer were grown right here.

Where Are Leafy Green Vegetables Grown in California?

Different lettuce and leafy greens varieties are available virtually year-round in the Golden State. Peak season in the cool, coastal Salinas Valley runs from April through October. Southern California’s warmer Imperial Valley harvest runs from November through March.


Delicious and Easy Leafy Green Vegetable Recipes You’re Going to Love!

Seeing as California grow so many leafy green vegetables, it only makes sense that we know a thing or two about the best ways to serve them. Keep scrolling for inspiration!

A collage with images of recipes with leafy greens.

Eat Your Leafy Greens – With This Fabulous Leafy Green Recipe Round-Up

There are so many delicious ways to enjoy leafy greens. From breakfast smoothies to flavorful fall salads, we share some of our favorite recipes starring leafy green vegetables in this CA GROWN recipe round-up.

Click here to see these recipes for yourself.

Vessey Family Easy 7 Layer Salad

This 7 Layer Salad recipe skips the frozen peas and eggs (but keeps the bacon!). It features fresh veggies available year-round from California. This layered overnight salad is endlessly customizable, making it a fabulous option for meal prep and a crowd pleaser too!

Click here for this recipe made with leafy green vegetables.
A cast iron skillet with the finished Melting Napa Cabbage recipe. It is garnished with cilantro and edible flowers.

Melting Napa Cabbage

Rich and garlicky with a sultry, robust flavor and just a hint of spice, our Melting Napa Cabbage recipe is easy to make. Better yet, it tastes like it slow braised in the oven all day!

Click here for this recipe made with leafy green vegetables.


Meet Jack Vessey of Vessey Farms, a Leafy Green Vegetables Farmer.

Nestled in the heart of the Imperial Valley lies Vessey & Company, a beacon of agricultural innovation and dedication since 1923. This farming family grows 40 different types of fruits and vegetables using conventional and organic farming practices.

Where is Vessey & Company Located?

“We’re in the beautiful Imperial Valley, in the small town of Holtville, California, and here at Vessey & Company, we are mainly leafy green vegetable growers.” – Jack Vessey

Fun fact: Holtville, California is known as “The Carrot Capital of the World.” In fact, the town celebrates with the annual Carrot Festival (typically in February). It includes a carnival, parade, carrot cook-offs, and more carrot-inspired fun for the whole family!

The Imperial Valley region, a lush oasis in the desert, thrives as a cornerstone of production for leafy green vegetables. It supplies a whopping 90% of the nation’s greens in a mere 50 to 100-mile radius.

We asked Jack to tell us a little bit about this region. “The Imperial Valley is a huge agricultural region that has effects on the state and nation, even internationally. I think it’s really cool that it’s a garden in the desert. If you come visit, whether it’s from the east, west, or north you’re going to drive through a desert, and all of a sudden, you’re going to drop into fields everywhere, he explains.

“It’s pretty amazing to see the things that we’ve done here, and if you think back 130 to 140 years ago, this was just all desert, and now it’s a huge agricultural region. We serve billions of salads a year just off our own farm, right? One of the things I always tell people is that, we’re your winter source for leafy greens…we’re not growing hot Cheetos for your kids, we’re growing medicine. And that medicine that we’re growing, this is where you’re going to get it in the wintertime, I think it’s very important for the health of America, to do what we do here in the Imperial Valley.” says Vessey.

The Vessey Legacy: Four Generations of Farming Excellence

Jack Vessey, a fourth-generation California farmer, shares a profound connection with the land and a passion for agriculture that’s deeply rooted in family tradition. “I’m a fourth-generation California farmer…It’s all I’ve ever known; it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. To be able to be in this business in California ag, you have to have a major sense of passion and pride and it’s something you have to want to do day in and day out. Every day is different, every challenge is different, and every year is different. We’re learning something new about the crops we grow every year based on how we grow them, timing, varieties, seed varieties, and bed configuration; we’re always challenging ourselves to do a better job and it makes it interesting day in and day out,” Jack reflects. His words underscore a legacy built on dedication and a deep-seated love for farming.

Innovative Practices: Cultivating Sustainability at Vessey & Company

At Vessey & Company, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a way of life. Innovative water conservation techniques and crop rotation practices ensure that every resource is cherished. This is a lesson Jack learned from his father over two decades ago. “My dad, 20, 25 years ago, sat down with my ranch manager and I and said, you know, water is a special resource that we really have to be considerate of. He highlights the farm’s commitment to responsible agriculture explaining, “We really looked at how we farmed and how we farm these crops and how we can get better, and really by focusing on how we’re going to save water helped us, you know, it’s kind of interesting, it helped us build yields and do a better job of some of the ways we grow our leafy greens.”

Challenges and Rewards: The Realities of Farming

Farming is a labor of love, fraught with challenges yet immensely rewarding. Jack shares insights into the daily hurdles and the relentless pursuit of excellence that defines Vessey & Company. “Every day is different, every challenge is different…we’re learning something new about the crops we grow every year,” he says, painting a picture of the dynamic and ever-evolving nature of farming leafy green vegetables.

A Community Effort: The Heart of Vessey & Company

Beyond the fields and crops, Vessey & Company stands as a testament to community and family. “We’re a team, we’re a family…it really takes a group of people to do what we do,” Jack emphasizes, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the entire Vessey team. This sense of community extends beyond the farm, with Vessey & Company playing an active role in local organizations and initiatives.

Vessey says,“My grandfather and my dad, especially my dad, really taught me that the community is so important, the people you surround yourself with and being supportive of the community. I think maybe sometimes we stand out because of the support we give to local organizations, from FFA to the food bank to the local 4 H and other various organizations.”

Looking to the Future: The Next Generation of Farmers

Jack’s hope for his children and the next generation of farmers is clear as he looks to the future. “You have to want to do this,” he says, acknowledging the challenges and profound satisfaction of farming.

Jack says, “My dad really pushed me to go study something else in school and to maybe do something else. And now that I’m getting to an age where my children are preparing to go off to college, I see where he was coming from. You have to want to do this. You can’t wake up and not want to do this. It’s very time-consuming. It’s very mentally demanding. You’re in a risky business. There’s a lot of things that are out of our control. So yeah, I mean, I want my kids to know that the world’s open to them to do what they want, but this is here for them if they want to do it.”

Jack’s ultimate goal is to sustain the business for future generations, ensuring that the legacy of Vessey & Company and its contribution to agriculture continues.

Vessey & Company and the Fabric of California Agriculture

Vessey & Company embodies the spirit of California agriculture: resilience, innovation, and deep roots in the community. Through our interview with Jack Vessey, we gained insight into the meticulous care and dedication that goes into growing leafy green vegetables, a vital component of our diets. As consumers, supporting California farmers like Vessey & Company means enjoying fresh and nutritious produce and contributing to a sustainable future for agriculture.


This article was written by Meg van der Kruik. Photo credit James Collier for California Grown.

Click here to view the Google Web Story for this post!

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