The concept of local sourcing of food was not exactly a hot trend in 1985 when Jim Dixon took over a fledgling farmer’s market operation named Tri-County Produce on lower Milpas Street.
For three decades the company has flourished in a warehouse a couple of blocks from East Beach in Santa Barbara. It is there that shoppers from across the region can find real Ojai pixies, pickling cucumbers that are firm and fresh and all manner of fresh picked plums, pears, apricots and avocados.
It is the sort of place where wealthy hedge fund managers and occasional celebrities wait in line with farmworker families scraping their last dimes to buy a few tomatoes, where local winemakers are discovered and where the bulletin board announcements are a cross-section of life on the Central Coast.
With a folksy manner and an eye for high-quality products produced in the Tri-Counties, Jim, a native of Canada, and his son, John, built an incredible brand that’s endured through good times and bad.
His mantra that “quality and freshness are the No. 1 important goals” anticipated a new era for consumer tastes. And the friendly, informed staff that greets even occasional customers like they were regulars was a big change from the chain stores.
Dixon gained semi-cult status with vintage TV ads that showed him standing in fields up and down the Central Coast. He spoke his mind about things, was a devoted dad and husband and was recognized by the Business Times with one of our Family Business Awards.
Dixon passed away last month from complications from a heart attack he suffered late last November. As we extend our condolences to the Dixon family, we are confident that Tri-County Produce will continue under John’s leadership and that it will remain an important outlet for producers in Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
Dixon’s life will be celebrated at 11 a.m. March 5 at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara. The family asks that donations be made to the American Heart Association at http://sbheartwalk.kintera.org/Dixon.
French Hospital among top 100
Amid a flood of reports about health care rankings, the Truven Health Top 100 Hospitals list stands out for its rigorous look at the industry.
Relatively few hospitals in California made the cut and just one in our region was listed. French Hospital Medical Center made the Truven list for medium-sized community hospitals, marking the third time that French has received the prestigious award.
Congratulations to the French Hospital staff, CEO Alan Iftinuik and Dignity Health, the parent organization for French. From a new wing opened last fall to innovative practices and partnerships with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, this is an institution on a roll.