About California Ripe Olive farmers
Seventy-five percent of U.S. grocery shoppers prefer to buy products grown in the United States* and because nearly all domestic ripe olives are grown on multi-generational family farms in California, they’re a great choice for customers. Meet four of the hard-working olive farming families in the Golden State.
*Based on results from a 2013 survey with 1,000 grocery shoppers across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Benson Family
Rick Benson and his sister Laura Vandeweghe may be a fourth generation California farming family, but they’re the new kids on the block in regard to California Ripe Olive farming. When Rick attended a Tulare Farm Expo about 12 years ago, he met a nursery sales representative that introduced him to the idea of growing olive trees in the desert. With guidance and a blessing from his father, he took a chance on planting olives in the Imperial Valley of California.
Being resistant to heat and other harsh conditions, the California Ripe Olives thrived. The Benson Family then made the move to plant more acres of olives in one California’s most beautiful desert landscapes, adjacent to the Salton Sea.
Today, Rick and Laura enjoy working through challenges together. They find growing high-quality California Ripe Olives to be the ultimate reward for their efforts. Planting newer orchards has allowed the Bensons to experiment with new technology, including mechanical harvesting, and they see olives as the crop for the next generation.
The Aguiar and Silveira Family
When Jeff Aguiar’s grandfather emigrated from Portugal to the United States, he took a chance on 10 acres of olives. With hard work and dedication, his family has now been growing California Ripe Olives for nearly 100 years.
Drive a short distance from Jeff’s family farm to Orland, California, and you’ll find another stunning olive orchard belonging to Jeff’s cousin, Mike Silveira. Mike was just 10 years old when his family decided to pursue growing California Ripe Olives. His first job on the farm was picking olives, and it didn’t take long for him to realize how many it would take to fill one box.
Today, Mike and his wife Susan take pride in their agricultural lifestyle, putting a lot of love into their farm, and getting delicious California Ripe Olives out of it.
The Ricchiuti Family
Pat Ricchiuti’s grandfather, Vincenzo, immigrated to the United States from Italy in 1914, planting the seeds of a family business that would continue to grow for several generations. Benefitting from Vincenzo’s wisdom, Pat’s father then began his own career as a grower, packer and shipper after returning home from World War II in 1946. He eventually planted a California Ripe Olive orchard in Clovis, California in the early 1970s, which Pat and his son, Vincent, manage today.
Growing up in the groves has afforded Pat and Vincent a deep understanding of the value of hard work, and many fond memories, such as learning how to drive a tractor before a car! Taking each family lesson into careful consideration, this father-son duo now proudly works hand-in-hand, watching their business thrive and taking their family’s legacy to new heights.
The Curiel Family
Although they didn’t start growing their own olives until 2001, Ed Curiel and his family have a long history in California Ripe Olive farming.
Ed’s father, Jose, emigrated from Mexico in the early 1960s to work in California orchards, picking olives, peaches and other crops. “Old Blue,” the family’s trusted truck served as not only their transportation, but also their home, as they moved from Mexico to California throughout the years. In 1980s, the Curiel family made Corning, California their permanent residence, and two decades later, purchased the very olive orchard they used to hand-pick.
Today, the Curiel family extends beyond Ed’s immediate family. It also includes the same harvest crew they have worked with for more than 15 years, and of course, “Old Blue.”
About California Ripe Olives
The roots of the California Ripe Olive industry run deep. The recipe used today for curing ripe olives was invented in the late 1800s by a California Ripe Olive pioneer named Freda Ehmann. California Ripe Olives cure for seven days which make for a better tasting olive that is extremely versatile and a delicious addition to a variety of dishes and snacks consumers crave. California Ripe Olives: Enjoyed by families everywhere.