Watch our TV segment "Celery 101"
Mar./Apr. 2015 California Bountiful magazine
Farmers and chefs learn how to celebrate celery
Sure, you may have seen celery as a vital part of a salad or maybe even your favorite Bloody Mary, but at Duda Farms in Oxnard, the skinny-stringed veggie is so much more. They are just one of the many celery farms across the state that make California the leading celery producer in the country.
Duda Farms has about 3,500 acres of celery in year-round production and as they like to say, they follow the sun, meaning they move production from Salinas in the summer to Oxnard in the fall. In all, Duda Farms produces about 3.5 million cartons of celery a year. It is an intensive crop to grow—from seed to harvest, it takes about six months.
And here's another fun fact for you about celery: It actually gets its crispness from the rigidity of its stalk, combined with a high water content. And while celery is about 90 percent water, these farmers are doing everything they can to conserve water in the Golden State. They have recently installed water probes to monitor moisture in the soil, thus protecting from overwatering or under watering with one of California's most precious natural resources.
"The future of farming in California certainly relies on the use of water," said Dean Diefenthaler, vice president of Duda Farms. "Wherever water flows is where crops grow, but you still have to use it wisely. "
In addition to improving technology in the fields, Duda Farms has also taken their farming innovations inside at their state-of-the-art production facility just minutes away from the fields in Oxnard. More than 63,000 square feet are devoted to celery and nothing but celery there. The veggie is cleaned, chopped, diced, sliced and made to order—going to companies like Campbell Soup as well as grocery stores and restaurants like Brooks Restaurant in nearby Ventura.
Just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, chef and owner Andy Brooks focuses on local, seasonal ingredients for his bold and inventive menu.
The chef is a fan of the locally grown celery and prides himself on using every bit of the vegetable—not only the stalks but also the leaves, roots and seeds for seasoning in a range of dishes. Andy says that celery can actually be paired with a variety of items you may have not even thought of, like almonds, blue cheese and butter, to name a few.
And while consumption hits a high during the holiday months and the Super Bowl, for these farmers and chefs, every day is a reason to celebrate celery!
For more information about Duda Farms, visit www.duda.com.
For more information about Brooks Restaurant, visit www.restaurantbrooks.com.