In the early 1900’s Imperial Valley Agriculture was in the early stages of development. The Colorado River, which was prone to flooding had at least been tamed. The former desert floor was transformed with irrigation canals by the hard working and determined pioneers.
Elton and Maude Vessey operated a produce wholesale business in Los Angeles and later moved to the Valley in the 1920’s to begin a lettuce farming venture. In the 1930’s they expanded the business to Hollister and gradually into the Salinas Valley. During this time, Elton’s innovative techniques developed to transport lettuce, which revolutionized lettuce harvesting. The "Vessey System", later utilized throughout Arizona and California, (later) became known as the Rapid Harvest Company and is still in use today. At the time of Elton’s death in 1949, the company was operating throughout San Benito County, Imperial, and Salinas Valley.
Elton’s son Jackson (Jack) Vessey (1910-1985), continued to expand the company operations. Lettuce harvesting and packing now included Brentwood, Salinas, Blythe, Marana, Wilcox, and the Imperial Valley. Jackson was also an early pioneer in the fresh garlic industry, with garlic packing operations in Hollister, San Juan Bautista, and El Centro, California as well as in Queretaro and Mexicali Valley, Mexico. In the late 1960’s all Northern lettuce operations were sold to the United Fruit Company. Before his death in 1985, Jackson Vessey represented the Imperial Valley as a member of the Western Growers Association.
Philip Vessey (1936-1965), Jackson and Barbara Vessey’s eldest son attended the University of California at Davis. He moved to the Imperial Valley in 1958 to begin working for the company. Philip married Cindy Schween of Salinas in 1964. They took up residence in rural El Centro at the "red house". They were married less than a year when Philip’s untimely accident occurred in 1965. He and Cindy had no children.
Born and raised in Salinas, Jackson’s second son, Jon Vessey followed the family farming tradition after attending the University of Arizona. It was under Jon’s leadership that the family diversified. After more than 60 years in the lettuce shipping business, the company diversified by growing over 25 different commodities for many different customers.
After attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (1993-1998), Elton’s great grandson Jon "Jack" Jackson Vessey is the 4th generation family member to be involved in the company. Under the administration of Jack and his ranch manager Bartt Ries, Vessey and Company has become the premier vegetable operation in the Imperial Valley. Jack now oversees the 10,000 plus acres in the Imperial Valley for the nearly 100 year old family farm.
Jack is very active in the community and in the farming industry. Once president of the Holtville Rotary Club and of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association, he now currently sits on the board of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Assoiciation. Jack is the 3rd generation of the Vessey’s serving on the WGA Board.
EXTENDED VESSEY FAMILY