While California Endive Farms is now America’s largest grower of endive, the company started from very humble beginnings as the brainchild of founder Rich Collins. The seed for the idea was planted in 1978 while Rich worked as a dishwasher in a French restaurant in Sacramento, California. After a trip to Europe to learn hands-on about growing techniques, California Endive Company was born in 1983.
2-stage growing process: first in the light, then in the dark
Chicory seeds are sown in the spring producing a root the size of a large carrot by fall. Those roots are harvested from the field and then placed in dark, humid, “forcing” rooms to produce endives. Yes, endive is actually the second growth of a chicory root!