Issues & Ideas: Andy Boy, a Salinas Valley agriculture trailblazer

May 4, 2018

Andy and Phyllis D'Arrigo
Credit The D'Arrigo Foundation

Tom Wilmer reports from Salinas Valley where he visits with 90-something Andy D’Arrigo, patriarch of the family run agriculture business D’Arrigo Brothers. It was Andy who served as the model for the company brand created back in 1927 when he was two years old. Andy’s childhood face still adorns the label 80 years later. 

It was the D’Arrigo family that introduced broccoli and green celery to the American consumer back in the 1920s. Today the fourth generation family employs close to 2,000 workers and is a major producer of broccoli, cauliflower, fennel, romaine hearts, lettuce and more. 

D'Arrigo Brothers iconic Andy Boy label--since 1927
Credit Thomas Wilmer

Andrew D'Arrigo's father founded the company in the early days of the 20th Century in Boston and expanded to California in the 1920's.

The D'Arrigo family is credited with introducing broccoli as a commercial vegetable crop to America, along with green celery--previously commercial celery was white.

Today the family owned D'Arrigo Brothers company ships out more than 250 semi truck-and-trailer loads of fresh produce every day, more than 800 acres are planted weekly, while more than sixty bus loads of workers heads out to the Salinas Valley fields every morning.

* The interview was recorded on location in 2013 at D'Arrigo Brothers offices

Salinas Valley harvest just down the road from D'Arrigo Brothers headquarters on the outskirts of Spreckels, California
Credit Thomas Wilmer


Andrew (Andy) and Phyllis D’Arrigo have been true partners since their wedding day on June 22, 1947. Their commitment to each other and their family while Andy worked tirelessly to build the company founded in 1920 by his father, Stefano (Stephen), and uncle, Andrea (Andrew), both teenaged immigrants to the United States from Messina, Sicily is a testament to their individual and combined strength.

Andy and Phyllis have seen the company grow from farming its first 28 acres in San Jose to over 35,000 acres today in two states growing, harvesting, shipping and selling a variety of lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, specialty vegetables, broccoli rabe and sweet anise (fennel), cactus pears, and growing grapes for wine.

The Andy Boy label that D’Arrigo markets and ships its products under features a photograph of Andy when he was two and a half years old. This label is one of the most recognizable in the produce industry.

D’Arrigo Bros. Co., of California boasts third generation family management at the helm of the operations with fourth generation family members working in various positions within the company. The company celebrated its 95th anniversary in 2015.

D'Arrigo Brothers' Andy Boy label on vegetable lug
Credit D'Arrigo Brothers
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