Blog & Press

Building a natural bee habitat to support bee populations

US bee populations have steadily declined in recent decades, which is a big concern given their importance. In the US, honeybees pollinate about $15 billion in agricultural products each year, including more than 130 types of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Nature’s Reward aims to restore local bee populations. Check out the full story on Fresh Plaza here

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Colored Cauliflower Harvest

Watch our colored cauliflower being harvested, courtesy of The Produce News.

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Bayer, Nature’s Reward and United Fresh Start Foundation Promote National School Lunch Week with New Broc-Stars Initiative for Kids

Monterey and Pajaro Valley Schools Offer High Rise Broccoli to Students,
Highlighting Sweet Taste and New Uses for Broccoli Stems

SALINAS, CA (October 14, 2021) – Bayer, in collaboration with Nature’s Reward and the United Fresh Start Foundation, is promoting a kid-friendly broccoli, just in time to celebrate National School Lunch Week, October 11-15.
This week, fresh from the field broccoli, from Bayer’s High Rise™ Broccoli series, was made available to students in the Monterey Peninsula and Pajaro Valley Unified School Districts in California. Students were offered tasting samples during lunch, participated in a culinary demo, and Pajaro’s elementary students sampled the broccoli as a mid-day snack, as part of the district’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. Students enjoyed the locally grown broccoli’s sweet taste, as well as the plant’s tender, edible stem, which was cut into half-inch rounds, or “stars,” a new Broc-Stars kids initiative.
“Broccoli is a mainstay on our menu, and we’re always looking for new ways to offer and promote broccoli and other dark green vegetables to our students,” said Linda Liu, Registered Dietician and Director of Food & Nutrition Services for the Pajaro Valley Unified School District. “The Broc-Stars are a fun, new way to eat broccoli by focusing on the stem.”
“This past summer we had the chance to participate in the produce industry’s foodservice conference, right here in our backyard, and that was a wonderful, eye-opening experience,” said Micha James, Nutrition Services Director at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. “We are interested in local collaborations that can help our students enjoy fresh vegetables, as well as helping industry to understand how schools can be partners to expose children to fresh produce.”
In addition to this week’s collaboration, Bayer has committed $20,000 to the United Fresh Start Foundation, supporting their mission to increase children’s access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Bayer has sponsored virtual networking and education sessions for school nutrition professionals to connect with colleagues and industry suppliers, sharing best practices and strategies for sourcing, serving, and promoting fresh produce to students at school, despite challenges posed by the pandemic.
“Broc-Stars started as an idea we had when we were out in the field looking at our High Rise™ Broccoli series,” said Jenny Maloney, Strategic Accounts Manager, Bayer. “The broccoli stems are often overlooked, but our
variety has a longer stem to help with harvest and other challenges farmers face. At the same time, it tastes amazing, and we thought this could be a real hit with young school children. The idea of cutting the sweet-tasting stem into easy-to-eat half-inch rounds, or really ‘stars’ given the stem’s shape, made us think this could be a hit with kids, and the idea of Broc-Stars was born.”
Bayer serves as a member of the United Fresh Start Foundation’s Board of Trustees, participating on the committee that is charged with providing guidance on new and innovative avenues to increase children’s access to fresh produce.
“Having the support of companies like Bayer to encourage healthy eating habits for the next generation of produce consumers is instrumental,” said Andrew Marshall, Director of Foodservice and Foundation Partnerships at United Fresh. “We’re pleased to have helped facilitate this connection and look forward to creating additional opportunities for produce companies to collaborate with school foodservice programs and their communities.”
Nature’s Reward, one of the leading growers in the Salinas Valley, grew and donated the broccoli to the two school districts. “Growing in California continues to be a challenge, but we were able to grow a great quality product that not only allows for ease of harvest, but also has a unique sweet tasting stem. As a part of this community, we are always looking for ways to give back, while at the same time promoting fruit and vegetable consumption at schools,” said Mark Mason, Nature’s Reward.
Bayer’s High Rise™ Broccoli series has been 20 years in the making. Developed in collaboration with growers, the High Rise broccoli series offers supply chain-wide benefits from field to store to table. The High Rise broccoli series delivers cleaner stems with fewer large leaves, and visible crowns that are firm and heavy. With uniform crown maturity, competitive yield potential and consistent product quality, the High Rise series can mean fewer harvest passes and is also well suited for time-saving machine harvesting. That means growers could significantly reduce their field labor; harvesters can make 1-2 passes through a field to cut plants, rather than the current three or more passes, and less leaf trimming is needed. And, the High Rise broccoli series firm heads and tender stems meet today’s market demands for broccoli crowns, bunches, and florets.
Bayer’s commitment to sustainability and agricultural education begins with the people it serves every day. This commitment extends to fighting food insecurity and encouraging healthier food choices for a happier and well-educated community. For additional information and background on Bayer and its other programs, please visit
National School Lunch Week is an annual celebratory week that recognizes the importance of a healthy school lunch in a child’s life, and the benefits of a program that has been serving nearly 30 million children each day for more than 70 years. This year, it is also an important opportunity to highlight the hard work and dedication of school nutrition professionals who have continued to make fresh fruits and vegetables available to students, despite the continuing challenges of the pandemic.

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Nature’s Rewards’ Ryan Bitter discusses Building Supply of California Broccoli

Supplies of broccoli out of California are down overall but they are slightly better than a few weeks ago. Read the whole article published on Fresh Plaza here.

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These restaurants around the globe are showcasing the versatility and beauty of cauliflower

The March-April 2020 Virtuoso Life Magazine features restaurants that are embracing the “new kale”…cauliflower! Check out the article here

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Nature’s Reward’s Phil Balestreri Gives Update on Mexicali Green Onions

Supplies of green onions are good and steady currently.

“Quality is great right now and the sizing is starting to come back,” says Phil Balestreri of Salinas, Ca.-based Steinbeck Country Produce Inc. who ships its green onions in the Nature’s Reward label. Read the full article here

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Romaine demand climbs back post-recall

Romaine demand is starting to pick up again following the mid-November recall and advisory warning on romaine lettuce grown in the Salinas, Ca. region. Check the full story from Fresh Plaza here

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Displaying Nature’s Reward color cauliflower in retail stores

Let me use this space to talk about Nature’s Reward orange, purple, green and Romanesco cauliflower. You can scroll down below to a prior post and see video of the harvesting and farming that goes into producing these products. Yet, I want to talk about how to sell these fine products in the retail space. Here is one thought by the good people of Nature’s Reward on the best way to move and promote these wonderful, colorful products. We believe retailers will be well-served to display all varieties of colors in the same location at the same time. In other words, build up a big display of traditional white cauliflower, orange cauliflower, purple cauliflower, green cauliflower, and romanesco. Arrange them all relatively randomly in the display to create a big cauliflower splash, basically a rainbow. Then, let the consumers decide which color they desire. We feel that anyone walking in the produce department would see this, stop, think about it, comment to other shoppers nearby on the beauty of all of this Nature’s Reward cauliflower and ultimately buy the product. For the shoppers’ convenience, there is a QR code on each head of our color cauliflower to help them with nutritional data and ways to cook and eat the product, plus other tidbits about the product. We think it would be fun! A big colorful display will just stop folks in their tracks. At Nature’s Reward, we believe it would be successful for the retailer, the shopper, and for us, the humble farmer of these amazing products. Who will be the next retailer to take this idea and run with it??? We would love to see any photos and will post them here if you’d like to share them.

Yours in produce,
Greg Beach

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New website highlights Nature’s Reward brand

So, Steinbeck Country Produce just switched our website to from  We sent an official press release (here) to describe why, yet I thought I would use this space to say a little bit more about our reasoning behind the change. Over 90% of our products are shipped in the Nature’s Reward label so when a customer sees our high quality merchandise in a store, warehouse, terminal, etc…it is now faster and seamless, to simply type in Nature’s Reward and go right to our site, right to us! There are also some search engine optimization reasons for making the change that frankly I do not understand yet thankfully we have folks here that do understand that world. Basically, we want people to know that we grow, harvest, and ship Nature’s Reward vegetables. We are proud of our quality and consistency day in, day out, year after year.  We are proud to be Nature’s Reward!  

Yours in Fresh Produce, Greg Beach

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How Does Color Cauliflower Get Its Color?

Have you ever seen those orange, purple and green cauliflower? Wonder how they got their color? It’s ALL natural! No dyes, no GMO’s. Nature’s Reward spills all the details.

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