70th Annual Carrot Parade

Holtville celebrated the 70th Annual Carrot Festival and Parade on February 11, 2017. This year's theme was, "We Dig Carrots" and once again Vessey entered an elaborate float, which took 1st place in the Commercial Float Division.  

The float, with its 70's theme also included fresh produce!

With the mic in hand, Jack pumps up the crowd!

Following the float was the Vessey Love Van!

A big THANKS to Razo and Paco for all their hard work on the float and the Van!

Produce Gala and Saladero Contest

Vessey & Company took home the People's Choice Award at the 2017 Saladero Contest hosted by the Boys & Girls Club of Imperial Valley! In all, 7 teams competed with the Imperial County Sheriff's Office taking first place, and Vessey & Co. taking second! The goal of the contest is to utilize local produce. We accomplished this with our Aloha Salad which included locally grown romaine and butter leaf lettuce, spring mix, red and green cabbage, napa, organic rainbow carrots, and cilantro with a Crystallized Ginger Vinaigrette! Hawaiian Pork sliders were served on the side!

Our team included Jack & Jamie Vessey, Eileen Low and Eric Pompa

2017 Carrot Festival Banquet

Congratulations to the 2017 Carrot Queen, Sadie Allegranza and to all the young ladies who participated in this year's Carrot Queen Contest. Several of this year's contestants were part of our Vessey & Co. Family, Sadie Allegranza is the daughter of Rosie Allegranza and niece of Mark Allegranza. McKenzie Peeks, who was part of the Court, is the daughter of Cory Peeks, our Food Safety Manager! Past Queen Emily Allegranza, was also there to crown her younger sister. Congratulations to them all!

Sadie Allegranza (far left), McKenzie Peeks (third from left) & Emily Allegranza (far right) are all part of our Vessey & Co. Family!

KXO News Radio 1-30-17 ### Rib Cook-Off Winners


Written by George Gale

Category: Local News

Created: Monday, 30 January 2017

(It was another good turn-out)…The 26th Annual Holtville Athletic Club’s Rib Cook-off was held Saturday.

The exact numbers have not been released. Officials, however say Samaha Park was packed for most of the morning. Over $10,000 in awards and prizes were distributed during the day. The list of winners include; The Best Performance. That award went to the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office. The Hospitality award went to Big Al’s Paradise Café. Second place went to the City of Holtville. Los Compadres took 3rd. The Best Side dish was Lucky’s Fish Tacos. Second place went to AM Desert Storm and third went to Redneck Ribs. The Best Pie award went to Maxine Bonneau, who also took third place. The second place award went to Linda Hornung. Mitch Kellum picked up the award for best outhouse. Best Booth was awarded to Fern Semi Famous BBQ. Second went to Imperial County Planning and third went to the City of Holtville. The Best Ribs, as chosen by the Judges, went to Imperial County Planning. Second place went to Dune Company and Big Al’s was third. The pinnacle or People’s Choice award went to Vessey and Co’s Sunshine Ribs. And inducted into the Hall of Flame was Ronnie Claybrook


KYMA News Channel 1-24-17 ### Labor of Love feeds ag workers in the Imperial Valley

Labor of Love feeds ag workers in the Imperial Valley

HOLTVILLE, Calif. - Dozens of farm workers were treated to breakfast this week as a sign of gratitude from the community.

More than 60 farm workers in Holtville enjoyed breakfast brought to them by the Labor of Love program, Tuesday morning. This is the first time the Yuma program offers this type of event in the Imperial Valley, according to organizers. 

The program initiated last year through the Yuma Fresh Association as a way to thank farm workers for their work. The event was in collaboration with the Imperial Valley Vegetable Grower’s Association and Vessey and Company. 

"These people are the heart and soul of the agriculture business, which is the heart and soul of how we have healthy foods on our tables all across the country. Without them we couldn't have that, so we are just so grateful for everything that they do for the industry and the world," said Kristin Sheppeard, Labor of Love program.

Sheppeard says they plan to offer more of these events for other farm workers in the Imperial Valley.

By: Eduardo Santiago

Posted: Jan 24, 2017 03:21 PM MST

Updated: Jan 24, 2017 03:21 PM MST


Western Farm Press Article 1-23-17 ### Vessey & Company join Labor of Love program

Imperial Vegetable Growers Assn., Vessey & Company join Labor of Love program

The Labor of Love program thanks farm workers for their service to the agricultural industry and by sharing their talents, loyalty, and incredible work ethic through social media and the Labor of Love websites.

Farm Press Staff | Jan 23, 2017

The Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association has joined with the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association (YFVA) to expand the Labor of Love program in California’s southern-most winter vegetable fields.

In addition, Holtville-based Vessey & Company is the first California grower from the Imperial Valley to support the Labor of Love program.

In Fall 2015, YFVA launched the program in Yuma, Ariz. and followed farm workers into California’s Salinas Valley during the summer months before returning to the Yuma area in the fall.

According to YFVA, the purpose of the Labor of Love program is to thank farm workers for their service to the agricultural industry and by sharing their talents, loyalty, and incredible work ethic through social media and the Labor of Love websites.

Labor of Love visited the Vessey ranch on Jan. 17, surprising workers with a catered meal and a random act of kindness basket, plus a handwritten note from community members.

For more information, contact Susan Sternitzke at (928) 246-9255 (cell) and susan@limelightcreativegroup.com.




CA GROWN Blog Article 1-20-17 ### Meet a Farmer: Jack Vessey of Vessey & Company

Meet a Farmer: Jack Vessey of Vessey & Company, Inc.

Meet Jack Vessey, President of Vessey & Company, Inc. As a fourth-generation farmer, he is proud of the hard work and dedication his father showed on the farm. Learn more about Jack and why he says it’s important to support as many local organizations in his community as possible.

CA GROWN: Tell me about the history of the company.  

Jack: My great grandfather started the business in the early 1920s after he started out as a produce wholesaler in the LA produce market. He lived in Pasadena and through purchasing lettuce and other commodities throughout California and Arizona, it became a classic story of “maybe I’ll just get into the farming business myself.” So the family moved from the LA area to the Salinas area and became shippers in the lettuce business and had other commodities as well. Later on in the mid 60s, the Salinas operations were sold and the company was relocated to the Imperial Valley. At that point, we became growers, packers and shippers in the lettuce business until the early-80s and we had lettuce in six different growing regions, from Brentwood, CA and all the way down to Wilcox, AZ. What changed our business in the early 80s was my dad seeing that wrap lettuce and back sales were beginning to be the new thing. There was also consolidation on the shipper end and through our relationship with his good friends, Tom and Steve Church, they started Fresh Western Marketing in Salinas and at that point, we decided we don’t need to have our name on a box, so let’s do what we’re better at, like being growers and marketers. So instead of being full time growers, packers and shippers, we chose to instead be just a grower, make strategic partnerships with Salinas marketers and have joint ventures with year-round shippers out of Salinas and dabble in the marketing side.

CA GROWN: What does a typical day look like for you?

Jack: A typical day for me this time of the year allows me to get a feel for the ranch and what’s going on. My ranch manager holds a meeting every Monday from 5 – 6 a.m. starting in mid-August through March and all our supervisors and foreman attend that meeting every morning. It’s a great opportunity for me to sit there and really listen to what’s going on and see the dynamics of what we do these days and what’s happening. It’s a great way for me to get the day started. The business side has grown so much and it’s a lot different than it was when my dad was my age because for one, we’re doing business in California now and two, it’s about the competitiveness that makes you be so dedicated to be able to survive in this business. That’s really changed because we know we have to do the best job we can on a daily basis or we won’t be in business anymore. People come to us and expect us to supply those contracts and what I mean by that is, through my joint venture partners, we’re supplying a solid processing plant. When they come to us and say they want 100,000 pounds of X every Monday through the winter season, we do our best job to make sure we have that 100,000 pounds every Monday throughout the harvest season to supply those contracts.

CA GROWN: What are some ways your company gives back to the community?

Jack: My father was a very giving man and supported a lot of different things in our community, not just the community of Holtville where we’re headquartered, but the Imperial Valley as a whole. We’ve been supporters of the Boys and Girls Club, the local hospital, the Holtville Athletic Club, the Holtville Rotary Club, the Holtville Take Down Club, Little League, the local high school, FFA and 4-H groups and the list goes on and on. For me, it’s important to be a part of the community. I was raised in Holtville for my entire life and I feel like I have a big responsibility because I was born and raised here in the Imperial Valley to try and do everything in our power to support different causes here. We rarely say no to anything and I’m proud of that.

CA GROWN: What drew you into the farming profession?

Jack: I was born. I spent a lot of time with my dad growing up. Every Saturday and Sunday if I didn’t have a sporting event, I would go to work with my dad. I was always in his truck or at the office and he used to sit me at his desk and tell me to listen. That was how a lot of my Saturdays went, sitting there and listening to him on the phone or being in his pickup and listening to him conduct business. So, it was something that I really wanted to do and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else but what I’m doing today. A lot of us in agriculture are proud to plant the seed, cultivate and grow a crop to the best of your ability. Going out to the fields during harvest is like going out there and saying “there’s my babies” and then you have to let them go in the end. It means a lot to us to see different bagged salads and labels and there’s a good chance that some of our products are in there.

CA GROWN: What are your hobbies or pastimes when you’re not farming?

Jack: Family. I love to spend time with my wife and my children. We love to go up to the dessert and enjoy it. I’ve got three children, my girls are 4 and 6 and my son is 10 years old and I love having fun with them and driving with them around the ranch when I get the chance to.

CA GROWN: What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a farmer?

Jack: Dedication. It has to be something you really want to do and you have to be dedicated to it. You have to be prepared to work long hours and know that when work has to get done, it has to get done. If you don’t want to do it with 110 percent effort, then this isn’t the spot for you and you’re not going to be a happy person. If you like to see projects come to fruition from start to finish and that really means a lot to you, this is definitely the career to be in.

CA GROWN: What is something that’s unique about your business or makes it stand out?

Jack: We’re a fourth-generation produce business. Sometimes people talk about corporate agriculture when it comes to California, but if you still look up and down the state, there’s still plenty of farms that are family-held and family involved. To be able to be a fourth-generation farmer with the fifth generation coming up, I’m just hoping to survive in this business climate and at least give my children the opportunity to do this if they’d like. But they would have to have the drive, the want and the desire to do it because I don’t want them to spin their wheels doing something they don’t want to do.

CA GROWN: What has contributed to your past success and what are you doing to ensure continued success going forward?

Jack: A lot of our success has to do with the people on the ranch, our team. These people have been with us for many, many years and we’ve got a lot of long-term employees and generational employees that have been a part of the ranch for so long. It’s because of the people who work with us that things get done. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today and we take pride in creating a team situation where people understand they’re part of our family and a part of the team. At the end of the day, we’re all working towards one common goal and that’s to be here for the next year, five years and ten years not just for my family, but for their family as well.

CA GROWN: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Jack: Seeing people learn and prosper and at the end of the day, us doing what we said we’re going to do. I mentioned that morning meeting before that we go through everyday Monday through Saturday during the winter season and the amount of organic and conventional commodities we do and how much planning it takes to get through a season. The scope of work that we have in front us and accomplishing it makes you feel good. Laying out that plan and progressing and getting better at what we do every year and having people working with us who are happy is key.


Holtville Tribune Article 1-19-17 ### “Labor of Love” Comes to the Imperial Valley

“Labor of Love” Comes to the Imperial Valley

By Jim Predmore

“Labor of Love”, which started in Yuma, Arizona has grown to include the Salinas Valley and now has moved into the Imperial Valley. It is put together by the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association and now affiliated with the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association.

“Labor of Love” is a way to give back to the farm workers who work so hard to provide food for our tables. They are very hard working, loyal, and humble. They work through rough working conditions from mud and rain in the winter to the extreme heat in the summer.


Farm workers from Vessey & Co. line up to receive their lunch and refreshment.

“Labor of Love” partners with local growers to provide breakfast on the

farm for farm crews, random acts of kindness throughout the season, stories of workers through social media and media coverage, featured worker stories on the Labor of Love web site and community involvement.

When Jack Vessey of Vessey and Co. first heard of Labor of Love, he was quick to jump on board and was the very first grower in the Imperial Valley to do so.


Ponciano Vallejo, a 53 year employee of Vessey and Co., is the Labor of Loves highlight employee and will be featured in Labor of Love’s Media Press Release in the coming month.

So at 11a.m. on Tuesday, Jack Vessey had all of the field workers that were out harvesting cabbage stop their work and come over to have an early lunch. He provided burritos for all 70 of them. Each worker received a gift basket with several items included such as Gatorade, chips, cool cups, lotto tickets, and a raffle ticket for some gift cards that would be raffled off. Jack Vessey went out on a limb and told the workers that he would match on any of the lotto tickets if anyone had a winner. One of them got a $10 winning ticket so Jack matched it.
Jack jumped at the chance to get involved with Labor of Love because he loves to do things for his employees that allow him to keep a low profile, stating that “We were born and raised to keep our head in the sand”.

Heather Vessey Garcia, Jack’s sister, said that there were many times that Jack would run through a fast food restaurant and order food for his crews. Jack said that he liked it when he would go to a Jack in the Box by himself and order 100 burgers and they would ask him “Are they for here or to go?” Jack has a great sense of hummer and anyone who knows him has seen that.

Jack had Ponciano Vallejo, a 53 year employee of Vessey and Co., to be the Labor of Love highlight employee. There were several questions that were asked of Ponciano. One question asked was “What do you think of Vessey & Co. as an employer?” He stated “They are the best in the nation.”

The kick of Labor of Love in the Imperial Valley was a big hit for the employees of Vessey & Co. with several other growers waiting to jump on board for future events.


The Desert Review Article 1-19-17 ### Vessey showers affection on his crew with Labor of Love

Farm worker Juan Hernandez (right) smiles in appreciation for the breakfast burritos served during a surprise visit by Labor of Love representatives at a Vessey & Co., Inc. cabbage farm north of Holtville. Hernandez has been with the Vesseys for about ten years.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vessey showers affection on his crew with Labor of Love

HOLTVILLE — Farmers delighted farm workers Tuesday with a surprise visit and an appreciation for their service at a cabbage field north of Holtville.

Jack Vessey and his sister, Heather Vessey-Garcia, of Vessey & Co., Inc., brought breakfast burritos, salsa and water to his ranch, located about ten miles north of Holtville, just in time for the farm workers’ break time. Accompanying Vessey were Susan Sternitzke and Kristan Sheppeard, co-coordinators of Labor of Love, who brought baskets they named ‘feeling lucky baskets’ filled with a variety of items. 

The farm workers were called to meet the mobile covered sheds, parked on a dirt service road between cabbage fields, where they were served breakfast burritos. Vessey used the time for Sternitzke and Sheppeard to tell his farm workers about the Labor of Love program. He later called out one of his employee to the front.

In the presence of about 70 crews, Vessey gave recognition to Ponciano Vallejo Gonzalez, 71, whom he called Tio Chano, an endearment meaning Uncle Chano. 

“I’ve known Tio Chano since I was probably two or three years old. He’s been on the ranch for over 50 years. He worked for my father, my grandfather, and me. It means a lot to me and my family,” Vessey said.  

Vallejo said he has worked with Vessey & Co., Inc. since 1963. Before joining Vessey’s farm, he worked in Salinas northern California. After that, he worked at various agricultural fields in Arizona and Imperial Valley, including Blythe. According to Vallejo, he no longer works in thinning, weeding or harvesting. For the past eight years, his concentration and area of responsibility has been food safety. 

Speaking in Spanish, Vallejo said of his employer, “Excelente, Numero Uno in Imperial Valley.” (Excellent. Number one in Imperial Valley.) 

Kristen Sheppeard, who works with Sternitzke at Limelight Creative Group which manages the program, said, “Labor of Love is a program designed by the Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association to thank and celebrate farm workers.” 

This year, Labor of Love has set its affection in Imperial Valley. “Thanks to a new partnership with the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and our very first Imperial County sponsor, Vessey & Company, who both have a strong desire to celebrate and thank the farm workers in Imperial County.” 

After an hour celebration, farm workers smiled carrying their ‘feeling lucky baskets’ to their automobiles parked along a stretch of dirt road and headed back to their work areas at the cabbage field. There was more work to do. 

The harvest crews, according to Vessey, like to start at about 5:30 in the morning, working until mid-afternoon harvesting green and red cabbage. Depending on the variety of cabbage, harvesting is from November until April. 

Farm workers harvest over 200,000 cabbage heads on a given day in about 800-900 acres each winter. Indeed, that is a lot of labor and fresh leafy vegetables to feed families and keep America healthy. 

Each week, Sheppeard said, we go out to the field and surprise farm workers with some food, either breakfast or lunch, and we do a random act of kindness by bringing gifts and “feeling lucky” basket filled with fun goodies. 

Labor of Love, a program started by Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association in Yuma, Arizona and managed by Sternitzke and Sheppeard of Limelight Creative Group, aims to give recognition to farm workers for their contribution to the agriculture industry. It initially started in Arizona and now has spread into California. 

“I hope to do it again,” said Vessey. “I plan on doing this every year and I hope others will join in Imperial Valley as well to show how much we appreciate the farm worker.” 

Farm worker Juan Hernandez (right) smiles in appreciation for the breakfast burritos served during a surprise visit by Labor of Love representatives at a Vessey & Co., Inc. cabbage farm north of Holtville. Hernandez has been with the Vesseys for about ten years.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Labor of Love Visits Vessey & Company

Celebrating the hard work of our Team!

Vessey & Company, along with Labor of Love and the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association surprised 65 workers today with breakfast, gift baskets and a raffle!    A great way to show our appreciation! In addition, Panciano Vallejo (Chano), was recognized for his dedication to the company for 53 years!

For more information

IV Press Article 1-18-17 ### Field workers appreciative of catered meal

Field workers appreciative of catered meal

Jack Vessey (left), president of Vessey & Company, Inc., an Imperial Valley grower of fruit, vegetables, hay and grain, in Holtville on Tuesday, welcomes some of his field workers for the Labor of Love luncheon provided by the organization as a way of expressing thanks to the hard work field workers. WILLIAM ROLLER PHOTO


Careers in Ag

Students from UC Davis, Cal Poly Pomona, and University of Arizona partnered with Western Growers to participate in Careers in Ag. This 3-day tour provided students the opportunity to meet with leaders in STEM and agriculture industries. Students met with growers in Coachella, Yuma and Imperial Valley. Topics included Food Safety, Crop Science, Soil Science, Innovation and Technology. Last stop...Vessey & Comapny!

Group photo with Jack near a cilantro field.

Jack and Bartt shared information on how agriculture has changed over the years.

The Desert Review Article 12-4-16 ### Thousands Served At 37th Annual Farm Workers Breakfast

Thousands Served Tamales and Hot Coffee at 37th Annual Farm Workers Breakfast

Mario Renteria, industrial relations specialist at Center for Employment Training in El Centro, serves tamales Friday morning to Martha Martinez, an agricultural farm worker .

CALEXICO – While everyone was sleeping in the wee hours of Friday morning, dozens of State Employment Development Department (EDD) employees along with numerous volunteers put on their aprons and served breakfast to thousands of field workers during the 37th annual Farm Workers Appreciation Breakfast of Imperial County.

“It is an honor to be here with this token of appreciation to our farmworkers who daily work hard for our community,” said Luis Castro, mayor of Calexico. “Mexicans are the ones who have raised the crops in the Imperial Valley and we need to respect these individuals. We must support the people that wake up early and strive every day to work hard. The least we can do for these people is to offer them a breakfast once a year.”

Castro recalled being 12 years old when his parents owned Castro’s Coffee shop back in 1971 and serving the farm workers coffee in the early hours.

“I pretty much grew up with these people,” said Castro. “I am proud to see that many of our older farm workers put their kids through college who now are professionals, which shows us the efforts of the parents reflects on their children.”

On Friday, the field workers were welcomed with over 3,000 tamales along with beans, cupcakes, milk, orange juice and coffee at the One Stop Career Center parking lot.

“This is my first opportunity to come down and join this event, and oh my goodness, you have a lot to be proud of, this is so exciting,” said Sharon Hilliard, chief deputy director of the Employment Development Department. “I want to thank everyone who contributed and made this possible. Like everything great, it takes a village, and this is a great example of it.”

Most of the farm workers live in Mexicali and cross daily in an effort to achieve a better way of living. Most laborers leave their homes just after midnight and return to their homes after dark.

“This is the only job I know, and have known since I was very young,” said Francisco Alarcon, a Mexicali resident and farm worker. “Even though I am away from my family most of the time, this job provides food and a roof over the heads of my wife and children and that is all that matters to me.”

Musicians Tony Obezo and Frank Paleo set the mood with their live music for those who opted to dance to keep warm, while others gathered around the heaters and shared anecdotes of their farm working experiences.

County and city officials also participated in the event, including Calexico Mayor Luis Castro, Sheriff Raymond Loera and Undersheriff Fred Miramontes, as well as members of the Mexican Consulate in Calexico.

Initiated by Loli Mercado, the Farmworkers Breakfast began in 1979 in El Hoyo on 2nd Street, where farm workers were served sweet bread and coffee. The breakfast has slowly evolved into a significant event with full meals.

“We went from serving sweet bread and coffee, to tamales, beans and all of the other goodies and I’m sure it will keep growing,” said Mercado. “I want to thank all of our sponsors and volunteers who make this possible year after year.”

The event was hosted by the California EDD, the City of Calexico, the Farm Worker Services Coalition of Imperial County, the Center for Employment Center Training, the Calexico Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican Consulate in Calexico.

Sponsors included Baja Runners, Del Taco, El Don FLC #1, Rabobank, Mike Abatti Farms, Imperial Valley Foodbank, Heartland Farms, Vessey and Company, Supervisor D-1 John Renison, Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, the Mexican Consulate in Calexico, JC Dominguez Inc., Migrant Head Start, Alford Distributing, Planned Parenthood, SFC, and Smith-Kandal Insurance.