Gardening: Gold Coast Farms
Farmer and chef keep it all in the family
Folks along the Central Coast are fortunate to have picture-perfect weather, breathtaking scenery and a variety of agriculture, all of which have contributed to the success of Gold Coast Farms. The farm was started by Ron Burk in 1978 and now he and his son Gary carry on the family tradition.
The Burks grow a variety of crops, including a couple hundred acres of spinach in Santa Maria that goes to restaurants and grocery stores across the country. They also grow more than 1,000 acres of broccoli that they custom harvest and ship to several large restaurant chains. When it comes to broccoli, Gold Coast Farms caters to whatever their customer might want: short stalks, tall stalks, no stalks. You name it and they'll grow it. Another big crop the family grows these days is also one of the tiniest—in size, that is. The Burks are growing about 500 acres of cilantro and they supply some of the biggest Mexican-food chain restaurants in the U.S.
But no matter what crop the Burks are harvesting, they know one chef in town that will be excited to whip up a new and tasty recipe that the family will enjoy—as well he should, because he's part of the family!
You see, the Burk family brings their produce to Chef Rick Manson, who is owner and executive chef of the aptly named restaurant, Chef Rick's, in Santa Maria. He also just happens to be the brother-in-law of Gary Burk.
"To get fresh vegetables as fresh as possible has always been a point of mine, and so to marry into it and to have them bring it in every time they come in, is beautiful," the chef said.
The family also supplies Chef Rick with their wines, which they began producing in 1994. All the wines are produced locally under the label of Costa de Oro, which means "gold coast" in Spanish. The family is now producing about 6,500 cases a year, which are sold online or at the family's tasting room, located off Highway 101 in Santa Maria.
So from making wine to winning over customers to feeding families across the country, this farming family is proving you can do it all—and enjoy the fruits of your labor along the way.
For more information about Costa de Oro wines, visit www.cdowinery.com/wines. For more information about Chef Rick's, visit www.chefricks.com/home.htm.