News from Headstart Nursery, Inc.
June 2015
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Nursery News

Headstart Welcomes the World during California Spring Trials 

Headstart Nursery welcomed hundreds of visitors, including members of the California Seed Association Tour, during California Spring Trials, April 11-16. 
In addition to showcasing some of the newest varieties from Danziger "Dan" Flower Farm, we also conducted our own Grower Trials. We transplanted cuttings of various crops from 72, 128, and 200 cell trays into 4-inch pots. Our trials showed that finish times were the same regardless of cell size, so there's really no need to purchase bigger plugs to reduce grow time. And since we can ship five 200-cell trays per box, that can further reduce shipping costs.

Paying Tribute to Headstart's Gilroy Godfather

Don Christopher is already well-known throughout the local community as the leader of Christopher Ranch, co-founder of the Gilroy Garlic Festival, namesake of the new Christopher High School, and generous supporter of countless community causes and non-profit organizations. But Don is also a very important part of Headstart Nursery's own history. 

Headstart founder Steve Costa has been friends with Don's son Bill since the fifth grade and used to work at the Ranch during the summers while Steve was attending Cal Poly SLO. Don was so impressed by Steve's work ethic that he proposed they start a business together growing bell pepper transplants for Christopher Ranch and other local growers. Don provided the financial backing as well as his years of experience and expertise, but he trusted Steve to manage all the day-to-day operations of the company.
Together, they grew Headstart Nursery from the first six greenhouses to over 2.3 million square feet of growing space across nine locations throughout California. In addition to peppers, the nursery now grows hundreds of millions of watermelon, celery, and organic vegetable transplants as well as ornamental plugs, vegetative liners, poinsettias, and more. Don continues to be a trusted mentor and friend to Steve and Randy Costa and their families and remains a vital part of Headstart Nursery.
"It's simple.  Without Don's encouragement, guidance and optimism, I wouldn't be where I am today. There wouldn't be a Headstart Nursery without his vision, passion and support."
- Steve Costa

Headstart in the Community

Farm Day Salinas

On February 5, Sergio Torres, Melissa Campilli and Lisa Branco served as guides to over 3,000 third graders from Salinas. Chris Peck (or "Dr. Peck" as he referred to himself) was there too as a seed scientist to educate the kids on how a seed turns into a plant. 

Farm Day is put on by the Monterey County Office of Education and is one of our favorite community events every year!

Honoring Mark Nickerson

Mark Nickerson, co-founder of Prime Time International and a longtime customer of Headstart Nursery, was named Champion of Youth by the Boys & Girls Club of Coachella Valley. Several Headstart employees and family members (including Kendall Costa, Melissa Campilli, and Bonny Iten, shown left) attended a dinner in March to celebrate Mark as he accepted his award.
Steve Costa says that Mark Nickerson is "one of the good guys. He makes time for people, and he's passionate about what he's involved in. He was instrumental in helping us launch our business and establish Headstart Nursery in the Coachella Valley – with people, equipment, and his good word. I'm grateful for his support over all these years and truly happy to see him recognized with this great honor." 

California Seed Association Meeting in Rancho Mirage

Sergio TorresRandy Costa, Brittany and Mike Trebino, Doug Iten, Lisa Branco, and Steve Costa all attended the California Seed Association meeting in Rancho Mirage in March. They had a great time catching up on seed industry news, networking with other members, and playing golf and bocce ball. In the bocce tournament, Mike Trebino was part of the winning team, while Sergio Torres’ team won the "Biggest Loser" award. 

Lisa Branco currently serves as Vice Chair of the Youth Activities and Industry Communications Committee. For more information, see

Industry Issues

New Report Concludes Neonics Not Driving Bee Deaths

The Genetic Literacy Project recently published an interesting article about a USDA-sponsored study that concludes that the class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids may not be the cause of recent mysterious bee deaths and declining numbers of beehives.

In fact, the the numbers of beehives are actually growing, continuing a multi-year improvement since 2006.

Read full article...

All in the Family

New Faces Around the Nursery

We're happy to welcome two new members of the Headstart team! Quinn Snowden (left) joined us in March as a Production Assistant in Gilroy. He grew up in the Salinas Valley and holds a degree in Agribusiness from Fresno State. Reymundo (Rey) Quintero (right) started work as a Production Assistant at our Castroville facility in May. They've both been very busy learning all about all aspects of transplant and plug production. Welcome!

Our Newest Little Sprout

Headstart's receptionist Lorena Garcia and her family welcomed a darling daughter, Calista Adele, on April 14. 
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Our mailing address is:
4860 Monterey Road
Gilroy, CA  95020
(408) 842-3030