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Producing Excellence

The Marchini Family

Le Grand, CA

J. Marchini Farms

Products Raised or Grown: Radicchio, figs, almonds and specialized Italian produce

Size of Operation: 5,000 acres

In Business Since: 1989

Farm Credit Partner: Yosemite Farm Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1989

Watch J. Marchini Farms on YouTube

Joe Marchini has traveled a long road from “playing around” in his father’s garden in the 1950s to building a successful, international produce company that now includes his son, Jeff, as CEO and his grandsons Nic and Marc in management roles. J. Marchini Farms started simply enough: after working with his father for 20 years in several other agricultural enterprises, Joe saw red radicchio for the first time while in Italy, and brought home some seeds he planted on two acres of land.

His first crop was small: eight boxes he brought to San Francisco and sold through the farmers' market and given to restaurants to introduce them to the product. Growth was slow, but when packaged salad company Fresh Express came to town, Joe was there to provide radicchio for their mixed “Italian Blend Salad” sold in grocery stores across the country. Having that large customer in place positioned Joe to expand his operation to provide the consumer salad line with year-round product. Today, J. Marchini Farms manages 5,000 acres of produce, including 2,000 acres of radicchio and an additional 3,000 acres of primarily Italian specialty products, such as figs, fennel and even a patented species of almond. Joe co-founded a separate company, Minturn Nut Company, to grow and process its and other growers’ almonds.

From the beginning, Yosemite Farm Credit provided financing to enable J. Marchini Farms to build a vertically integrated operation, encompassing growing, packing, marketing and shipping. Having this infrastructure in place enabled the company to efficiently expand into additional products, and also gave them a competitive edge by providing one-stop shopping for their wholesale customers. The Marchinis’ reputation with these domestic and international customers is critical to their success. “We ship quality products, and they know that we’re good growers and honest people,” says Joe.

Technology is playing an increasing role in growing these products. Field monitoring systems enable long-distance irrigation planning and “Allow you to put yourself in the field without having to go there,” says Nic. GPS and grid sampling systems enable them to target fertilizer and other plant needs down to the square foot. As Marc puts it, “We’re able to spoon feed our crops.” Technology isn’t limited to the field: the company recently installed a solar array, also funded by Yosemite Farm Credit, that powers their cooling and packing facilities.

Despite the company’s success, the family has not strayed completely away from their roots: they still maintain a small, 2-acre farm where they grow a wide variety of summer and winter produce that they sell at local farmers' markets. “People want to know where their food comes from,” says Jeff. “We’ve all been very involved in this direct marketing.”

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