ENCINITAS–Dümmen Orange celebrated the retirement of their longest-tenured employee, Carmen Bautista.
Bautista, who grew up in San Diego County, started working in 1977 at the famed former Paul Ecke Ranch, now a key Dümmen Orange breeding facility, in Encinitas, as a direct laborer. She dedicated the past 43 and a half years of her career to becoming a fast learner, hard worker and knowledgeable handler of the world’s preeminent poinsettias and mums grown in Southern California’s ideal coastal conditions.
“Carmen has always been willing to help no matter the task and she’s really been part of the backbone of our business,” said Luis Hernandez, production manager at Dümmen Orange. “She does the day-to-day work of caring for the flowers and plants, always giving her best and taking the details to heart.”
Enjoying every facet of the job, Bautista played a vital role in the growth of Dümmen’s world-renowned poinsettia program. Her involvement included everything from transplanting cuttings and liners in the greenhouses to packing and loading finished plants on trucks. Ultimately, the end product was what consumers purchased in their favorite independent garden center or big box store.
The most crucial step in plant breeding is pollinating the plants, a specialized skill that Bautista developed and excelled at over the years. From pollination to the time seedlings are selected and hit the market, the process can take four to five years on the fast end or more like seven to eight years on average. That means Bautista’s daily actions have always had a long-reaching impact before her handiwork could be enjoyed by green thumbs and flower enthusiasts around the world.
With an unrelenting attention to detail, Bautista could always be counted on to get done what needed to be done. It was an invaluable attribute that never went overlooked by her employer or fellow laborers.
“What she does is important because her work today lives on as a legacy,” said Ruth Kobayashi, breeding manager at Dümmen Orange. “With 30,000 plants to look through every year, we are very fortunate to have Carmen help us finish yet another poinsettia season to keep future seasons on track. We are stronger as a company by sharing her extensive knowledge with other team members.”
Being a good steward of the flowers, Bautista has helped Dümmen’s stem selection (true-to-type testing) by evaluating flower and plant quality with her keen eyes. What is commercially introduced this year then becomes the mother stock for the next generation of growing.
“I loved all the years that I worked here,” said Bautista, a soon-to-be-retired team member of Dümmen Orange breeding’s Encinitas crew. “I hope that everyone who comes to work here will also love what they do. For me, it was mostly the poinsettias – I really love the poinsettias.”
Bautista’s more than four decades of professional excellence can serve as an inspiration for anyone thinking about pursuing a career opportunity in horticulture. Her last official day at Dümmen Orange was December 4, 2020.