Ocean Breeze International is a company which is well-known for the California Grown premium fresh cut flowers it produces. Because of the unique environment of its several locations on the California Coast, Ocean Breeze is able to produce quality flowers year round. Keeping at the forefront of state of the art growing technologies, such as hydroponics and IPM (Integrated Pest Management), has also increased the consistency and quality of Ocean Breeze's products as well as reduced the environmental impact of greenhouse growing.
Ocean Breeze was created in 1973 by Rene Van Wingerden and his family, but the Van Wingerden growing tradition started long before that in Holland.
In the 1600's the Van Wingerdens started growing berries and apples for additional income. By the 1700's the family had changed to growing vegetables in lean-to greenhouses (greenhouses that share/lean on to a wall of a house). However, in the 1800's the Van Wingerdens truly entered commercialism when they built the first stand alone greenhouse for growing their vegetables. A matrimonial union between a Van Wingerden son and a blacksmith's daughter made the otherwise expensive and rare materials and skilled labor accessible.
The 1900s were the most evolutionary, progressive years. At the start of the century the Van Wingerden family donated the land for the Flower and Produce Auction House in Holland . After WWII, the family started growing flowers - freesias in particular. Business bode well for the Van Wingerden family until the government's monopoly over the flower market proved too stifling for the naturally entrepreneural Van Wingerden family, in particular Rene's father - Case Van Wingerden. The government had a controlling monopoly on the flower market because flowers could only be grown with a permit issued by the government. Case Van Wingerden and other growers in the area rallied together to abolish the permit requirements. They were successful and the permits were ratified and no longer necessary in Westland.
The 1960's brought the development of rolling greenhouses. These greenhouses economize the structure, because they could be moved to accommodate the plants that were in a stage where they needed the protection and the control of a greenhouse. Case Van Wingerden's father (Hein Van Wingerden) didn't like that Case had changed from growing vegetables to flowers. Hein didn't see it as a practical crop because you couldn't eat the flowers. Regardless, Case continued to grow flowers. In 1965, the Van Wingerdens built additional greenhouses for their newest crop - Carnations. The Carnation flower was so successful that the greenhouses were paid off in less than a year.
Even with all of his success in Holland, Case Van Wingerden felt the need to move to the US. He was tired of working 14 hour days and having nothing left for his children. He also felt that the opportunities for his children would be greater in America than they were in Holland. Case's brothers had similar sentiments about America. Although the growing permits were no longer necessary in Holland the bureaucratic regulations and red tape had found their way back into the flower industry. The Van Wingerden brothers found through the university's geological system that Carpinteria was the ideal location for growing flowers. The climate, soil and water were optimum. So in 1967, Case and his 3 brothers (Bill, Hank and John) moved their families to Carpinteria and started Dutch Brother's nursery. They started growing Carnations, freesias and mums; and the Van Wingerdens have been successfully growing flowers here ever since. At one point 10% of all chrysanthemums used in the USA , were grown by the Van Wingerdens of Carpinteria. Now gerberas are the big crop. The Van Wingerden's grow 90% of the Gerberas used in the USA today.
But Case didn't just hand over his business to his children. His philosophy was that they need to make something for themselves or buy his business. So in 1973, after working for his father for 13 years at Dutch Brother's- Rene decided to start his own business instead of going to college. The money crop of the 1970s was chrysanthemums, so that is what Rene grew. He planted the first crop in June, the Greenhouses went up in January and the first mums were harvested the following June. As the years went by, the products Rene grew evolved and his acreage expanded, about an acre per year for 35 years. In the 80s, roses were added to the program and in the 90s gerberas. In this millennium, Ocean Breeze has added Calla Lilies and Oriental Lilies and our Hydrangea product line is starting to flourish. Down the line, Rene is looking to add antheriums and heliconia.
But the far future is in the hands of the next generation, Rene's son Ivor, and it is off to a great start. Ivor graduated from Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in Business. He has worked in several nurseries in countries all over the world and now is heading up the management of one of Ocean Breeze's divisions in Nipomo.
It will not be a great surprise if Ivor becomes successful in agriculture. Not only does Ivor have the great growing genes of the Van Wingerdens but his mother, June Van Wingerden (maiden name: Clark ) also came from an agricultural back-ground. The Clarks have been crop farming in Tulare, California for generations. June's family still farms cotton and corn. June is also highly active in promoting and protecting California 's precious agricultural resources.