The J. Marchini Farms Story
Marchini Farms’ story is about radicchio, but it all started with tomatoes during the 1920s when Florindo Marchini made the long and uncertain journey from Lucca, Italy. He traveled by boat to Ellis Island in New York, and from there traveled by train to San Francisco. From there, he was picked up by his brother in a Model T Ford and driven to Livingston where he worked on a grape farm. Then in 1925, he met Carlo Giampaoli and they started Giampaoli-Marchini Company, specializing in tomatoes. Packing under the Live Oak brand, tomatoes were grown, packed, and shipped in Le Grand, CA and made their way across the U.S. using the railroad system. Florindo’s success with Live Oak brand tomatoes planted the seeds of success for future generations of families in the Le Grand area.
After 10 years in the U.S., Florindo went back to Italy to find his future wife, Elisa Peretti. A business, a house, and a wife was all Florindo needed. When he returned to California, he and Elisa started a family. They had three boys, Leonardo, Giuseppe (Joe) and Ricardo (Richard). Joe always enjoyed being outside and watching his father farm, so it was practical for him to grow an 11-acre garden at age 13. From the experience Joe gained growing tomatoes for 7 years, Joe was invited by the existing owners of Giampaoli-Marchini to replace his father in 1960 at 20 years of age and became a partner.
The company was growing and so were the families; Joe began to realize that within 20 years there were going to be too many families involved in the business. To avoid any issues, Joe decided to sell his portion of Giampaoli-Marchini in 1967 and to go into business with his brother Richard. Still farming tomatoes, The Marchini Brothers experienced average growth in the seventies and eighties, adding bell peppers, onions, and almonds to their product line.
Joe is a true farmer at heart and has always liked to grow vegetables that no one had. In his garden, Joe started experimenting with a lettuce seed from Italy called radicchio, which made Joe the original radicchio grower in the United States. In the eighties, radicchio wasn’t known by many produce brokers but Joe found one company in San Francisco was familiar with the item and wanted to support local farmers. The company was J. Marchini Farms’ first radicchio customer. Shortly after, salad companies wanted to add the pop of radicchio color in their bagged salads and before Joe knew it, radicchio was in salads across America.
In 1983, Joe’s son Jeff Marchini began working for Marchini Brothers Inc. He loved farming and saw market potential in radicchio. In 1985, he grew his own field and drove loads up to San Francisco to increase the market’s awareness of the delicious lettuce. In 1989, Jeff requested to be made a partner at Marchini Brothers; unfortunately it wasn’t possible, so the company was split. Richard started Marchini Inc., concentrating only on almonds, while with their half, Joe and Jeff started J. Marchini Farms.
The formation of J. Marchini Farms allowed Jeff to concentrate on perfecting the radicchio operation. He tried different varieties, hybrids, and growing techniques, most of them showing minimal success, but by 1995, Joe and Jeff finally started making progress. They had found a steady seed supplier and the correct times to plant and harvest. They built a packing and shipping facility so no matter what Mother Nature has in store, radicchio orders could be filled.
In 2008 Jeff’s two “boys” joined the ranks at J. Marchini Farms. Marc works in the sales and post-harvest side of the business and Nic works in the farming operation side of the business. In 2012 his daughter Francesca hopped on board with sales and marketing. As J. Marchini Farms grows in its fourth generation of management, it is important to remember that J. Marchini Farms is built on strong values and heritage. Quality, satisfaction, and hard work are timeless attributes which Giampaoli-Marchini possessed 90 years ago, and which have been perpetuated to this day. We are J. Marchini Farms, from our family to yours.