The U.S. is one of the world’s biggest producers of cotton, corn, wheat, soybeans, and other major crops. But did you know we’re also renowned for dozens of other products millions of people use and enjoy every day? They’re called specialty crops, and the USDA defines them to include many fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, tree nuts, even flowers and nursery plants.
Meet farmers growing more than 40 different kinds of specialty crops, from artichokes to olives, tomatoes to endive, and pistachios, dates, almonds, protea flowers, and saffron. Then try making delicious new recipes by Sharon Profis, host of Farm to Fork, featuring dozens of specialty crop ingredients.
California leads the nation in the production of specialty crops – more than 400 are grown in the Golden State, including two-thirds of America’s fruit and nut products. There are 19 crops that are grown only in California* and nowhere else in the U.S., including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, raisins, prunes, olives, kiwi, figs, and table grapes.
* “Only” in California means 99% or more according to the CDFA.
Learn about Specialty Crops
Artichoke farmers reveal why you shouldn’t be intimidated by this thorny crop.
Journey up steep terrain in San Diego County to see how farmers grow protea flowers.
Discover all the delicious treats that California’s Apple Hill has to offer to visitors.
Visit a lettuce and herb farm that grows just about “everything in a salad.”
Mandarin farmers explain why this tiny, easy-to-peel fruit is exploding in popularity.
An urban couple realizes their dream by moving to the country and growing saffron.
A tomato farmer adds solar panels to farmland that’s been affected by drought.
Cantaloupes make a sweet treat, picked and packed right off the vine.
Meet a fourth-generation artichoke farmer.
Meet a family growing oranges for the long haul in California’s Central Valley.
Visit a walnut farm where the debris from the harvest is used to enrich the soil.
How do you pronounce endive? We find out at the largest endive producer in America.
Bright red chili peppers grown at this Mendocino farm are turned into chili powder.
See how farmers and volunteers are making a difference in southern California.
See what it takes to grow figs and pistachios in California’s Central Valley.
Olives grown near Sacramento are rushed to a nearby processing plant and mill.
Meet an almond farmer whose parents immigrated from India.
Fresh, ripe summer peaches are the top crop at this Fresno farm.
See how unique grape varieties are grown at this farm in California’s Central Valley.
Prunes are being rediscovered by chefs and consumers as a healthy food choice.
Visit a bustling farm in California’s Central Valley as they harvest bell peppers.
A mushroom farm near Monterey Bay grows unique varieties.