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The Caw: Meet Ricky Ortiz, The Ravens' Rookie Avocado Farmer

Posted Jun 30, 2017

Undrafted rookie fullback Ricky Ortiz is part owner of 150-acre farm in Mexico, where he and a high school friend are growing their guacamole business.

If Ricky Ortiz doesn’t end up playing in a Super Bowl, it would be a good idea to invite him to your Super Bowl party.

The Ravens’ undrafted rookie fullback has a second job as part-owner of a growing avocado farm and burgeoning guacamole business.

Ortiz’s orchard, named “Imperio” (Spanish for “empire”), is in Jalisco, Mexico and has more than 200,000 trees on 150 acres. Harvest is year-round and each tree produces about 200 to 250 avocados a year (40 to 50 million avocados annually).

“That’s a lot of guacamole, man,” Ortiz said on “The Lounge” podcast.

“It’s always been a dream of mine. It’s good to have as a fallback option.”

The idea hatched all the way back in middle school with best friend Adrian Contreras. Contreras’s father has neighboring sugarcane and lemon fields and sold the boys land to start their business. Since then, they have been slowly growing.

Ortiz walked on at Oregon State, only to later get a scholarship offer from Kansas State. He turned it down because he wanted to keep his commitment to the Beavers and because the school has an excellent agricultural sciences program.

After a multi-year process, the farm became certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the now grown men and their employees began selling their crop.

Right now, they sell avocados to local residents, but Ortiz, who runs much of the marketing while Contreras controls the day-to-day operations, wants to grow the business to sell guacamole worldwide with a focus on marketing it as a superfood for athletes.

“We saw a great market and we took advantage of it,” Ortiz said. “The market is incredible. The prices are going up; consumer demand is high.”

They are currently saving their money to get a machine to make the guacamole, and will refine their recipes from there after getting people to try the product at a California avocado festival.

“It’s such an awesome fruit that you can do so many things with it,” Ortiz said. “It will complement a lot of things. They even do European avocado smoothies. They have a bunch of stands in Europe. Maybe we can even get something like that started.”

Ortiz is trying to take advantage of his NFL contacts. He has a friend on the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line and with other teams. He met the owner of local restaurant chain Mission BBQ.

“Like we talked about in one of the rookie seminars, you’re marketing to a huge crowd in the NFL,” Ortiz said. “You get a commercial up there where it’s creative, like me scoring with an avocado, it can really make an impact. It’s so similar to the football shape, you can do so much with it.”

Ortiz’s first order of business, however, is to make the Ravens 53-man roster. That would only help magnify his sales pitch.

While his guacamole business has been a long time in the works, he started playing football at 5 years old and has taken the long road to make a name for himself.

Ortiz played a little bit of everything at Oregon State. He made eight starts at three different positions: tight end (six), fullback (one) and linebacker (one). He knew his future would be at fullback and looked up to former Ravens fullback Kyle Juszczyk and Atlanta Falcons fullback Patrick DiMarco.

The Ravens are looking for a fullback after Juszczyk left for the San Francisco 49ers, and Ortiz could be that guy. His main competition is Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has struggled with foot injuries and is making the position switch from running back.

“Maybe it is a combination of guys, and we will see,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said during Organized Team Activities. “But this Ortiz -- young guy -- he is doing a good job.”

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