A fixture on the Boston produce scene for generations, State Garden, which first set up shop in 1938, is a leading producer of both conventional and organic tender-leaf greens, spinach, celery hearts, and more in the Northeast.
“We’re a family-owned business that was started by the DeMichaelis family selling celery out of a pushcart in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which was then the produce center of Boston,” said Mark Pins, director of marketing for State Garden.
Mark Pins, Director of Marketing, State Garden
Earlier this year, State Garden launched a line of organic salad kits and is already seeing strong demand for the new product.
“We’re a family-owned business that was started by the DeMichaelis family selling celery out of a pushcart in Faneuil Hall Marketplace, which was then the produce center of Boston.” – Mark Pins
“There’s a lot of salad kits out there, but very few are organic,” Pins said. “We have a salad kit that has an organic crouton (from Vermont), an organic Craisin (from Southeastern Massachusetts), and four high-end salad dressings made by Cindy’s Kitchen out of Brockton, MA. just for us.”
State Garden, which is based in Chelsea, MA, produces both the Olivia’s Organics and Simple Beginnings brands as well as store-brand private label salads, celery, and cooking greens.
Pins noted the company’s organic produce is grown, harvested, and packaged with a concern for people and the planet, with every item grown by certified organic American farmers who employ earth-friendly farming methods and support renewable resources.
“Our organic push started in the late ’80s to early ‘90s and evolved quickly,” Pins said. “By 1992, we were doing 5 percent organic, but it’s flipped to 95 percent today. We saw the big picture of where the market was going and were in the right place at the right time with the right product.”
All of State Garden’s produce is sold in 100-percent-recyclable PETE packaging that’s BPA free.
“By 1992, we were doing 5 percent organic, but it’s flipped to 95 percent today. We saw the big picture of where the market was going and were in the right place at the right time with the right product.” – Mark Pins
“Sustainability is very important to us and making sure that we’re operating as efficiently as possible,” Pins said. “In order for us to supply our customers with the product that they need on a day-to-day basis, we have to pull in extra product. We’re going to bring in 1,100 pounds if we’re going to sell 1,000. We need to have extra for any increases in orders or breakage.” If State Garden ends up with any excess produce, it uses it in the company's new line of five organic juices.
“We’ve hired one of the foremost mixologists in the business,” Pins said. “We tasked him to come up with five blends that used either spinach, celery, or kale, which we produce the most of, and it had to taste good, have no added sugar, and it had to come in under a certain calorie count. The juices also contain flavors such as pineapple, banana, and beet, and they are selling awesome.”
“All of State Garden’s produce is sold in 100-percent-recyclable PETE packaging that’s BPA free.”
With approximately 1,000 employees, State Garden’s operation runs smooth as a clock, with much of its success coming from its great team and their hard work.
“We are good at what we do,” Pins said. “Logistics is probably our biggest asset—moving product from the farm, through the wash, to the pack, and then officially out the door isn’t easy, but we’re just really good at it.”
“Demand continues to be strong for organics,” Pins said. “Our customer tends to be the soccer mom or the person who does the shopping and cooking for their family. It’s very important for our consumer to provide a healthy diet for their kids free from herbicides and pesticides. That’s been the catalyst for organics from the beginning.”
Years ago, John DeMichaelis, Sr., challenged his boys, who are managing the company now, to give back to the community. In response, they established Olivia’s Organics Children’s Foundation.
“It’s very important for our consumer to provide a healthy diet for their kids free from herbicides and pesticides. That’s been the catalyst for organics from the beginning.” – Mark Pins
“What it does is we give back to the communities where Olivia’s is sold and bought,” Pins said. “A portion of the proceeds from every sale goes towards supporting children’s charities in their neighborhood and we’re proud of that.”