Queen of Vegetables Organic Farm

How Yadira Mendiola Became The Queen of Vegetables

“I continue to fight for organic farming…I’m excited and enthusiastic that public schools are including organic food for children. I like to see the end, the destination of the vegetables. I am improving the life and health of people.”

Yadira Mendiola never anticipated that she would one day become a farmer—let alone be crowned the queen of vegetables herself!

Yadira is the owner of The Queen of Vegetables Organic Farm, which operates on two separate properties: one in Salinas and the other in Royal Oaks. Each spans five acres—an impressive leap from the initial half-acre she first acquired in 2020.

Though she may be the queen, Yadira’s reign is far from dynastic: when we asked her about her farming origin story, she revealed that “the biggest surprise is that I am the first generation of farmers in my family!” Despite having received a law education in her home country of Mexico, opportunities were scarce. She began her agricultural career on a California grape farm in 2007, where she immediately fell in love with spending her time outdoors in the open fields, forging camaraderie with fellow day laborers. Eventually, she secured a position at a seed breeding company where her passion for horticulture first took root.

“In this place I learned how to sow the seed, to make it grow. I learned about the pathology of tomato plants. To see it grow, produce and harvest. There is so much to learn from each plant! All plants are different.”

Horticultural expertise in tow, Yadira was introduced to the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) by a colleague. There, she learned about organic farming, which she calls “agriculture for the new generation.” With the support of equitable farming organizations, she cultivated a lasting dedication to environmentalism and community nourishment.

While The Queen of Vegetables is thriving, certified organic agriculture still comes with its challenges. If there’s one thing Yadira wants you to know about farming, it’s that it is difficult: organic farming is particularly labor-intensive and can be vulnerable to the volatility of a changing climate, and she notes that the costs of organic pest control oils are much higher than conventional options!

“But,” she counters, “the end result is worth it.”

“The satisfaction is greater than having an office job. We are fighting on our feet for a good cause. We are warriors of health. There are many farmers behind and in front of me, and we continue to fight. Once, a person told me that it is so easy to just get an office job, and I told him that if we all had office jobs then he would not have a plate of healthy food on his table!”

Yadira aspires to have her own machinery and become completely independent one day. A mother of three sons, she envisions a future where the fruits of her labor bring health, joy, and prosperity to her grandchildren as well as the greater community. Among the plethora of vegetables she grows, she loves to promote those from her ancestral Mexican gastronomy, such as verdolagas (purslane) and tomatoes, which are her favorites and appear on The Queen of Vegetables’ logo.

When we asked her what makes her farm special, Yadira emphasized her love for health. She is driven by the desire to improve the diet of her local community and spark equitable change in agriculture. Her passion for food justice brought her to DC in 2023, where she advocated for better support for small farmers and equitable, environmentally-conscious food policies.

“I keep doing it for my community to see how there are organizations of people interested in maintaining good health.”

Yadira’s story is a powerful reminder that passion and hard work can cultivate a legacy. As The Queen of Vegetables, she is an advocate for local, ethical entrepreneurship, and a role model for an ever-growing community of organic producers in California and beyond!

Come visit Yadira at the Richmond Certified Farmers’ Market each Friday to meet the Queen of Vegetables herself!

Written by Anna Clair Miller

Scroll to Top