Underwood Ranches is a family owned farm with roots in Ventura County going back to the 1860’s. The Underwoods settled in Santa Paula, the Mahans in Camarillo, and the Kelsey’s and Duvals in Saticoy. They were the ancestors that farmed lima beans, walnuts, lemons, and early plantings of fresh produce. Richard Underwood started branching out from lima beans and dry land grains into tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, broccoli, and cauliflower. Urban Underwood was a charter member of the Ventura Pacific Lemon Cooperative. Richard was one of the original members of Oxnard Frozen Foods Vegetable Cooperative.
Craig joined with his Dad in 1968 and they farmed fordhook lima beans, cannery tomatoes for Hunt Wesson, broccoli for Oxnard Frozen Foods, and commodity fresh produce. In the 80’s, market conditions led the farm to look for opportunities to develop specialty vegetables. It was a time when retailers were leery of anything new. It’s hard to imagine today. Baby carrots, baby beets, and spring mix became signature products for the farm. The carrots and beets remain staples today.
For 50 years, Underwood Ranches has been growing peppers from bells to jalapeños. By 2013 the farm was growing 2,000 acres of red jalapeños. Through searching for the best varieties, securing quality land for production and developing the best sustainable growing techniques, Underwood Ranches became the backbone of the explosive growth of Sriracha. Its popularity was founded on high quality, fresh peppers. That tradition will extend into the future as Underwood Ranches rolls out new products. The heart and soul of the business goes into growing healthy and flavorful fruits and vegetables. The greatest passion and most rewarding aspect is the challenge of peppers.
Currently the ranch is not only growing peppers but products ranging from leafy greens and root vegetable to blueberries and citrus. The experience with many and diverse products that have comprised the sales of specialty vegetables, has enabled the farm to understand the particular needs of its customers and grow with the times. Today, Craig oversees the operation along with Chief Operating Officer Jim Roberts whose 30 years with the company includes the daily management of all aspects of the farming operation including growing, marketing, sales, engineering, and accounting. Their love of agriculture shows in the pride of a successful crop and attention to detail. Farming can be challenging, but the benefits far outweigh the risks.