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New Jersey grower joins forces with Florida grower

by Gordon M. Hochberg | October 06, 2014

Vineland, NJ-based M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc. and Immokalee, FL-based Oakes Farms announced that they will be working together for the 2014-15 Florida produce season, farming over 600 acres in Immokalee.

In early November they will begin harvesting green squash, yellow squash, eggplant, Bell peppers, Jalapeño peppers, Cubanelle peppers, Poblano peppers, Long Hot peppers, Habañero peppers and Hungarian wax peppers.DOttavioFloridaThe Oakes Farms facility in Immokalee, FL. (Photo courtesy of Oakes Farms)

In mid- to late November, the companies will harvest round tomatoes, Roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes. For spring 2015, they also will be growing watermelon and cantaloupe to complement their extensive commodity lists.

The two companies have a combined 50 years of growing experience, a large diverse customer base and share an understanding that quality and service are the utmost importance in order to make this new partnership work.

“In the world we live in today, sustainability for food safety, third-party audits and traceability separate one company from another,” Mike D’Ottavio, president of M. D’Ottavio Produce Inc., told The Produce News Sept. 30. “We have concentrated and worked very hard to achieve excellence in these standards and are excited about the future growth of both companies.”

The companies will grow and pack under two labels for this coming season — “Oakes Farms” and “D’Ottavio Produce” — both of which will represent top quality and a premium pack. Customers will be offered a variety of custom packs throughout the season for all commodities, said D’Ottavio.

Oakes Farms operates its growing and farming divisions “in a manner that respects the long-term health and well being of the environment, the land, our partners and the community,” said Steve Veneziano, the company’s director of operations. For this reason, Oakes Farms created a new label called “Seed to Table,” which illustrates the company’s innovative agribusiness model, said Veneziano, adding, “We are committed to these values and will provide a quality service unparalleled in the industry.”

D’Ottavio Produce is recognized in the Northeast for supplying fresh New Jersey quality produce for the past 24 years.

“We have created bee habitats for pollination and are working with Natures Eye to develop ways to save water and use less fuel through satellite irrigation,” said D’Ottavio. “This, along with our other growing practices, we promise to do our share to help make a better world for the current and future generations.”

Sales and communications for Oakes Farms will be handled by Steve Veneziano. Sales for D’Ottavio Produce will be handled by Mike D’Ottavio and salesman John Salvati.