Vendors: Dale and Christine Coke
Location: San Benito County
Products: Organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including heirloom lettuces, greens, squashes, root vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, basil, rosemary, thyme, lemons, and strawberries, as well as prepared foods made in their commercial kitchen using ingredients from their farm.
PAFM Vendor since 1988
Coke Farm, located in coastal Northern California, is spread over four locations throughout San Benito County, about 100 miles south of Palo Alto. Coke Farm’s produce can be found in local markets, restaurants, and specialty stores throughout North America. On Saturday mornings at PAFM, we might see owners Dale and Christine Coke, or their children – Lorraine and Alyssa Coke and Jamille and Oliver Griss.
In 1981, founder Dale Coke was searching for something meaningful to do that would prove challenging. Dale planted his first rows of organic strawberries in the fall of 1981 on a small plot of land in Aromas, California. When the plants produced successfully, and a local natural foods store became the first Coke Farm customer, Dale planted more crops and joined the Santa Cruz chapter of C.C.O.F. (California Certified Organic Farmers).
Within a year Coke Farm was “discovered” by a chef at Chez Panisse who expressed interest in their strawberries, snow peas, and squash. Coke Farm expanded its varieties and continued to sell organic produce to local stores, eventually expanding their customer base. They began selling at PAFM in 1988.
Within a couple years, sparked by growing demand, Coke Farm started growing specialty and baby lettuces for local area restaurants. When faced with an abundance of leftover lettuces in the field, Dale experimented with mixing several varieties together, creating “spring mix.” Large-scale wholesalers took an interest and began buying the spring mix for high-end restaurants in cities on the east and west coasts. This mix quickly gained popularity among Coke Farm’s customers and created a demand for a larger-scale production.
In 1985, Coke Farm more than tripled in size when 33 acres were acquired adjacent to the existing 10. Four years later, Coke Farm had grown to over 200 acres, harvesting over 50 crop varieties each year and shipping daily from San Juan Bautista. In addition to growing and shipping their own produce, Coke Farm also cools, stores, and ships for several local organic farms.