Castroville, California is the Artichoke
Center of the World. If you don't believe it, when you get there just look around! Fields of artichokes in all directions. See the Castroville photos below.
This small town lies in the heart of California's Central
Coast farm country less than 100 miles from San Francisco and less than
three miles from the Pacific Ocean and public beaches. Prime land less
than 3 miles from the beach and 10 miles from Salinas in Monterey County
is blessed with the perfect climate for growing artichokes. For over 50
years, this "Artichoke Capital of the World" has celebrated harvests
of their number one crop with an Artichoke Festival held usually in May.
In 1947 a young woman named Norma Jean was crowned Castroville's first
artichoke queen. She later was known as the famous actress, Marilyn Monroe.
John Steinbeck graced the town in a different manner, by using it as the
setting for his short story, Johnnie Bear.
Stop at one of the artichoke restaurants and dine on farm
fresh produce, including some of the biggest artichokes available on the
planet! Billed as the World's Largest Artichoke, Castroville is home to a
sculpture commissioned in 1963 for a roadside stand and restaurant owned by Ray
Bei. Built from concrete and rebar, this giant creation stands 20 feet
tall and 12 feet across. Today you can still see the giant artichoke in front of
The Giant Artichoke, 11261 Merritt St., Castroville, CA. Phone:
Castroville (population 6,724 ) is located along the coast beside Monterey Bay.
Here the ideal combination of soil, sun and fog provide the perfect growing
conditions for artichokes, making Castroville the Artichoke Capital. There's an
annual Artichoke Festival and parade, and Marilyn Monroe was crowned the very
first Artichoke Queen in 1947.
Two major artichoke packers are located here, along with
the nation's only artichoke processing plant. Is it any wonder that the
townspeople have proclaimed Castroville "The Artichoke Center of the World,"
and that they celebrate with the annual Artichoke Festival in May?
An annual artichoke festival is the big event around these
parts. Like the garlic promoters in Gilroy and the broccoli farmers nearby,
locals know how to make artichokes into many food items you have never
imagined. The festival is a wonderful time to visit and prepare your taste
buds for some gourmet dining. Sec the California
Events page for the date of the festival.
Castroville has a cute little main street pictured above
called Merritt Street, some mobile homes, houses, churches, grocery
and food markets, some of which advertise their products on window signs
and outdoor placards written in Spanish. The usual shops line this town's
main thoroughfare which is dotted with some historic looking buildings,
colorful flag banners and unique wall murals. Colorful depictions
of local history and figures of note, pay tribute to the town's heritage
and its primarily Hispanic residents.
One hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially
in the United States are grown in California. Approximately 75 percent
of the state's total acreage lies within Monterey County. And while artichokes
were ranked only 11th in crop value for this agriculturally rich area,
with an estimated worth more than $37 million, growers point proudly to
the fact that the artichoke is the county's Official Vegetable.
Founded in 1863, Castroville is the second oldest town
in Monterey County. Agriculture sprang up with crops of sugar, hay, beets,
grain and dairy farms. The artichoke, for which it is now known, began
appearing in fields around 1920. Just a few miles inland from the Pacific
Ocean is where you will find this old fashioned community and where you
can see the artichoke bounty. Pezzinni Farms is one of several
store fronts selling artichokes and artichoke items brought in from the
surrounding fields and made available to the public.