San Benito Roots - Chris Brigantino
Owned and operated by the Brigantino family, San Benito Roots is an organic farm with a mission to introduce the local community of the Hollister area to high quality international vegetables. Launched in early 2020, the farm consists of five acres with small plot trials used to educate, inform and expose visitors to specialty produce.
Along with heirloom tomatoes, peppers and onions, San Benito Roots currently cultivates six vegetables from the Oishii Nippon Project – Saku Saku, Zuccuri, Sweet Kabu, Negi, Shishimai, and Fioretto. From wholesaling their produce to local restaurants to selling direct-to-consumer at farmers’ markets, the team at San Benito Roots has found great success in introducing traditional Japanese vegetables to their community.
Please tell us who you are and a little bit about your farming operation?
My name is Chris Brigantino. I am the owner of San Benito Roots in Hollister, California.
How did you decide to get into the AG and Farming industry?
It’s in my blood. My father owns Brigantino Irrigation, so as a child, I helped construct underground agricultural water transfer lines. Now as an adult, I’ve learned how to manage those activities, learned farming techniques from all the local growers and I was able to put my boots on the dirt and make seeds grow from it.
What do you love about this industry?
One of my favorite things is the diversity and constant variables of the agriculture industry. What I like the most about farming is the diversity in cultures and the constant variables that go with farming activities. Nothing is the same, no one year will roll into the next, no practice is the same from one year to the next. Everything is constantly changing, people are changing, you get to work with different people from all around the world. You get to work with different vegetables and seeds from all around the world. And no one year - whether it be the weather or soil conditions - are ever going to be the same. So there's constant variation from year to year, and diversity and culture. I think those are a couple of my favorite things when it comes to the ag industry.
Can you share a bit more about how San Benito Roots got started and what your goal is with this?
San Benito Roots was formed to be able to introduce local community members to international vegetables. Our farm consists of five acres and we specialize in small plot trials that can be used to educate, inform and expose everyday people to extraordinary products.
What crops are you cultivating this year? And which have you been successful with in the past?
This year, we’re cultivating the six ONP vegetables - Saku Saku, Zuccuri, Sweet Kabu, Negi, Shishimai, and Fioretto.
The varieties that we have seen the most success with have been Shishimai, Zuccuri and Negi. On the consumer side, Negi and Shishimai have been extremely successful. Anyone who has ever sampled or tasted the product has fallen in love with it. Cultivation-wise and agronomically speaking, they're very easy to grow, especially in the Central Coast.
We have great climate and weather for peppers and onions, which are a very hearty vegetable that can grow in cold climates and warm climates and can be produced year-round.
In addition, Fioretto has been very successful in year-round production in the Central Coast. Its flavor, texture, taste, and visual appeal has been extremely successful with consumers as well. And it's producibility allows us to grow it year round.
What do you love the most about San Benito Roots and its role in the community?
What I love the most is being able to go out in an afternoon, work on the farm, and cultivate wonderful vegetables that aren't common to your everyday grocery store. I love being able to bring smiles to people's faces when they try these vegetables for the first time.For more information and to follow along as the farm continues to grow and expand, follow San Benito Roots on Instagram at www.instagram.com/sanbenitoroots/