Aptos and MPC
Artichokes, broccoli and cauliflower.
Tony and Anthony Leonardini (father and son)
850 Cowden Road
Hollister, CA 95023
Through generations, the Leonardini family has farmed in Castroville and Moss Landing.
During World War II, Anthony Leonardini was contracted to grow cabbage and potatoes on government-owned property in Moss Landing. At the conclusion of the war, he was given the land, and A. Leonardini Company was formed. Soon after, artichokes were planted and became the main crop. Broccoli and cauliflower were also grown in Castroville. Anthony joined with other artichoke farmers in the area to start Artichoke Industries, which was known for establishing the Cara Mia product line of marinated artichokes.
When Tony, Anthony’s son, was old enough to join A. Leonardini Company, the business expanded. At its peak, the business added a packing shed and farmed approximately 1,000 acres in Moss Landing, Castroville and Salinas. A. Leonardini Company also opened the Thistle Hut, a roadside fruit and vegetable stand located on Highway 1, in the early 1970s. Anthony died in 1985, but Tony kept A. Leonardini Company going until he and his eldest son, also named Anthony, started Northridge Farms in the early 1990s.
Tony’s youngest son Sean began selling vegetables for Northridge Farms at farmers markets in the mid-1990s. The first market was located in the San Jose area, but Northridge Farms quickly became a presence at 16 farmers markets with Sean and Anthony’s mother Sally taking part. Northridge Farms began selling at the Aptos market in 1996.
The Leonardini family downsized in the early 2000s to approximately 600 acres of farmland, of which 100 acres are designated for farmers markets. Anthony took over the running of the Thistle Hut, which became part of Northridge Farms, while Sean handles the day-to-day operations of Northridge Farms. Although partially retired, Tony manages the properties.
Future plans include continuing to implement sustainable farming practices, establishing an organic farm and growing in the Hollister area. The fourth generation of Leonardinis, Sean’s children, will soon be expanding the number of farmers markets that Northridge Farms attends.