February 2022 - 21

LEAFY VEGETABLES
BRAGA FRESH
Braga remains ahead of industry changes via
sustainable practices and innovation.
By Doug Ohlemeier
VGN Correspondent
At Braga Fresh Family Farms Inc.,
sustainability is in the ground and in the name
of one of its sister companies.
Hard work and dedication to the land,
mixed with innovative agronomic and
sustainable growing practices, have helped the
third-generation, family-run company thrive
for nearly a century.
" Stewardship and sustainability are our
No. 1 priorities, " said Eric Morgan, vice president
of environmental sciences and resources for the
Soledad, California-based Braga. " Our top priority
is improving the land we have and leaving it in
better condition for the next generation. That's not
a tagline. It's what we are actually trying to do. "
Braga plants cover crops, tracks carbon use,
examines irrigation water and applies the right
amount of fertilizers.
Roughly 70% of Braga's crops are grown
organically. As it continues to transition farmland,
Braga is working to increase that number every
year. It is setting aside as many acres as it can. Braga
grows on 20,000 total acres. It transitioned its entire
600-acre home ranch to organic production.
Braga grows a large variety of organic vegetables
in multiple California growing regions. Braga offers
leafy greens such as arugula, chard, cilantro, fennel,
kale, leeks, parsley, spinach, green and red leaf
lettuce, romaine lettuce, spring mix and collards as
well as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, green
onions and beets.
" The practices our founders instilled in us
worked well, " explained Morgan. " If we weren't
doing it right, we wouldn't have good crops. We
are able to get great crops off the beautiful land and
darn good crops from the harder to manage soils. "
Continuous availability
Production in the Salinas Valley, in Imperial,
Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties and
Yuma, Arizona, provide for year-round shipments.
Harvesting in the northern regions runs April
through mid-November. Planting in the southern
desert regions begins in late August and early
September. While some crops begin harvesting in
October, the bulk commences in November and
finishes in early March.
Braga's sister companies, Sebastian Harvesting,
Valley Farm Application, Al Pak Labor, A.S.A.
Organics and A.S.A. Farms began in the 1990s.
A.S.A. stands for All Sustainable Agriculture.
A.S.A. Organics is the organic farming entity in the
northern production regions while A.S.A. Farms
works the south.
" We are as vertically integrated as possible, "
said Morgan. " We are doing as much as we
can with spraying, fertilizing, and now with
processing. We are trying to take on as many
responsibilities as possible, keeping everything
under our own controls. It's huge to be able to
decide what you want, pursue it and put people
in place to make it happen. "
In 1928, Sebastian Braga, a Swiss immigrant,
arrived in south Monterey County and started
growing row crops. In the late 1930s, Sebastian
and his wife Josie Braga bought and settled on a
600-acre ranch at Soledad. They raised dairy cattle
and grew tomatoes, onions, sugar beets and hay
and field corn. During the 1960s, Sebastian's sons,
Ernest, Norman and Stanley, joined the operation.
They changed the dairy cattle operation to a beef
cattle operation and started growing lettuce, celery
and cauliflower.
In the 1990s, the third generation of Bragas -
Rodney, Chris, Carson and Marshall - joined the
business. Braga began experiencing significant
growth. After graduating from college, Rodney
applied his managerial expertise which helped fuel
expansion of growing regions beyond the main
home ranch area. Braga began transitioning to
organics during this period.
The ground Braga's founders acquired in the
1920s includes a variety of soils, from beautifully
productive dark and heavy alluvial soils to those
with decomposed granite that can be used as a
roadway base. The soils are all within a quarter
of a mile of each other and require different
management strategies.
Emphasis on the soil
Braga employs a robust soil testing program.
Before every planting and fertilizer application, soil
is tested to ensure the proper amount of nitrogen
and nutrients is applied. Morgan believes soil
testing will become a standard industry practice.
Employing the procedure for almost a decade, the
testing has provided Braga advantages.
" With soil testing for nitrogen and ammonium,
we find that we can reduce our inputs and learn
See BRAGA, page 20
A romaine lettuce harvest for Josie's Organics, a brand of Braga Fresh.
VGN | FEBRUARY 2022 | 19
The Braga family from left to right: third generation: (brothers) Marshall
Braga and Carson Braga, (brothers) Chris and Rod Braga and second
generation Stanley Braga. Photos: Braga Fresh

February 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2022

February 2022 - 1
February 2022 - 2
February 2022 - 3
February 2022 - 4
February 2022 - 5
February 2022 - 6
February 2022 - 7
February 2022 - 8
February 2022 - 9
February 2022 - 10
February 2022 - 11
February 2022 - 12
February 2022 - 13
February 2022 - 14
February 2022 - 15
February 2022 - 16
February 2022 - 17
February 2022 - 18
February 2022 - 19
February 2022 - 20
February 2022 - 21
February 2022 - 22
February 2022 - 23
February 2022 - 24
February 2022 - 25
February 2022 - 26
February 2022 - 27
February 2022 - 28
February 2022 - 29
February 2022 - 30
February 2022 - 31
February 2022 - 32
February 2022 - 33
February 2022 - 34
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2024
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2024
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/vgn-digital-seed-guide-2024
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2024
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyers-guide-2024
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-october-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-august
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-june-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/vgn-digital-seed-guide-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyers-guide-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-october-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/seedguide-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/seedguide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2019
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com