America at work
You’d Never Guess Where the Food You Eat Comes From
Ian Wagreich | January 7, 2015

A lot of us take the food we eat each day for granted, giving little thought to either where it was grown or where it came from. Yet if you live on the East Coast, there’s a good chance the produce you eat every day—the packaged salads you buy at the supermarket—were processed by State Garden.

Headquartered in Chelsea, Massachusetts at the New England Produce Center, State Garden has been a family-owned and -operated company for more than 70 years, and it hasn’t lost a step since it was founded. The company transports and ships all kinds of produce across the country, processing hundreds of thousands of pounds of food each year at its sprawling facility.

Owned by the DeMichaelis family, State Garden—which also operates the Olivia’s Organics brand—has invested ample resources over the past decade into upgrading its manufacturing plants, which now feature state-of-the-art tracking and processing equipment. We recently visited their main facility to find out how the food we eat gets from the farm to your local grocery store—and ultimately your kitchen table.

 

State Garden employs outstanding supply chain management and relationships with quality growers around the country to ingest and process tons of lettuce varieties 365 days a year 24 hours a day and serves customers from Toronto to Florida.

Serving customers from Toronto to Florida, State Garden employs outstanding supply chain management and relationships with quality growers around the country to ingest and process tons of lettuce varieties–365 days a year and 24 hours a day.

 

 

Lettuce packing is super high-tech and skilled workers meticulously operate specialized equipment developed for State Garden that sorts, cleans and ejects unwanted lettuce leaves from high-speed optical conveyors.

Lettuce packing is super high-tech and skilled workers meticulously operate specialized equipment developed for State Garden that sorts, cleans and ejects unwanted lettuce leaves from high-speed optical conveyors.

 

Triple-washed means triple washed. Lettuce leaves are gently tossed about in ultra-clean bath that leaves your leaves more germ-free than the average kitchen sink.

Triple-washed actually means triple washed. Lettuce leaves are gently tossed about in ultra-clean bath that leaves your leaves more germ-free than the average kitchen sink.

 

Once greens are washed they move along a conveyor to be purged of water, eventually sorted and bagged.

Once greens are washed they move along a conveyor to be purged of water, eventually sorted and bagged.

 

With about a dozen varieties, State Garden packages conventional salad blends, cooking greens and tender leaf salads as well as celery hearts and butternut squash.

With about a dozen varieties, State Garden packages conventional salad blends, cooking greens and tender leaf salads as well as celery hearts.

 

Resembling a giant washing machine, paint spinner or salad spinner, once greens come out of the wash they are spun to purge excess water before packing.

Resembling a giant washing machine, paint spinner or salad spinner, once greens come out of the wash they are spun to purge excess water before packing.

 

Some 700 workers are employed by State Garden and operate two shifts a day plus a third cleaning shift.

Some 700 workers are employed by State Garden and operate two shifts a day plus a third cleaning shift.

 

Up the conveyor and into a specialized sorting mechanism, greens are weighed and portioned.

Up the conveyor and into a specialized sorting mechanism, greens are weighed and portioned. 

 

For 75 years State Garden has been a top supplier of organic and conventional tender leaf greens, spinach and celery hearts.

For 75 years, State Garden has been a top supplier of organic and conventional tender leaf greens, spinach and celery hearts. 

 

Produce is sold in 100% recyclable packaging that's BPA free and made from PETE.

Produce is sold in 100% recyclable packaging that’s BPA-free and made from PETE. 

 

State Garden packages under several brand names including Olivia's Organics which with ever purchase, a percentage of proceeds go directly to the Olivia's Organics Children's Foundation.

State Garden packages under several brand names including Olivia’s Organics which, with every purchase, a percentage of proceeds go directly to the Olivia’s Organics Children’s Foundation.

 

State Garden COO/CFO Anthony Bordieri (far left) is the only non-family member on the company's executive team.

State Garden COO/CFO Anthony Bordieri (far left) is the only non-family member on the company’s executive team.