SLT in the News

Rich Collins, California Vegetable Specialties

Author: Deanna Mott
Date: Jan 01, 2011

Rich Collins, California Vegetable Specialties

Say on-deev! That’s how you pronounce endive, the slightly bitter, crunchy prized vegetable that is not only healthy, but beautiful and fascinating, as well. This Solano Grown crop manages to find its way around the world and is the flagship of Rich Collins’ California Vegetable Specialties of Rio Vista.

The partnership between Rich Collins and Solano Land Trust goes back to the ‘80’s when both parties were looking at property in Suisun Valley. Rich eventually ended up buying 195 acres from Solano Land Trust in 2006 which had a conservation easement on it. This isn’t typically the way things work with land purchases and conservation easements, so it was a unique situation to be sure. Since that time, Rich has become a business partner, both financially and in-kind. When asked Rich why he supports the land trust, he said, “it’s just the right thing to do.” Rich could have put his operation anywhere; it doesn’t take much space to produce endive. But he chose to keep it here in Solano County and chose Rio Vista because of its proximity to both I80 and I5. The fact that we are both actively trying to keep agriculture alive and well for current and future generations seems to align CVS and Solano Land Trust.

Traditionally a winter vegetable, endive is available year round through a two part controlled dormancy and growing process. Rich and his French partner have been working on perfecting the process for over 25 years. CVS is the largest producer of California Pearl (the blanched greenish-white variety) in North America, and the largest producer of Belles Rouges in the world; however they have a very small footprint. The very clean, very efficient farm production facility is only about 26,000 square feet. By September, Rich plans to have his new state-of-the-art cold storage facility up and running on his current property in Rio Vista. This model will be the most energy efficient cold storage facility in California. Recycling is a way of doing business for Rich. Not only do they have a strict recycling policy for their employee-generated trash, but there is no waste with the crop either. The root that is separated from the edible part of the endive is feed to cattle by area farmers.

Endive isn’t the only crop Rich is passionate about. He has plans to develop a non-confinement pasture-based dairy farm on the Dixon property where he lives. Bridgeway Farms will be a mid-sized operation that is sustainable in the future yet bridges the gap to the holistic way of farming from the past. The vision for this operation will incorporate an educational element to encourage and teach young farmers how to operate a successful farming business in the 21st Century. This will be an exciting endeavor to watch unfold!

For more information on California Vegetable Specialties, visit www.endive.com. We are lucky to have Rich Collins as a business partner in conservation and look forward to our continued partnership.

—Deanna Mott