How We Grow

2021 Sept/Oct How We Grow

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ALMOND COMMUNITY Meet the Board Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got started in the industry? Joe: I come from a third-generation farm. My grandfather started farming in the Central Valley just after World War II. It wasn't until 1982 that we planted our first almonds. Before that, we were cotton, tomato, potato and row crop growers. My dad wrote his college thesis on almond farming in California and after college he came back to the family farm. He was brokering some trees and was able to fund his own orchard through some of his deals. As the years progressed, we planted more and more almonds. I grew up on the family farm, and my summers included swimming in cotton irrigation ditches and jumping in cotton modules. Taking a job at Treehouse California Almonds after Graduate School was when I officially got my start in the family business. My primary task is managing sales and helping with the factory operations. I have the privilege to connect our customers with our family farm. Bob: I was born and raised a dairy farmer and forage crop grower in Merced, California. My parents are Portuguese immigrants, and my first language was Portuguese. I learned how to speak English when I went to kindergarten, like a lot of Americans have. I loved growing forage and I realized a little bit later in life that I enjoyed the farming aspect more than raising the cows. I went to Cal Poly to study Dairy Science and Agricultural Business. When I finished school I got back into the cattle industry working for a livestock genetics business until I was in my early 40's. About 25 years ago, my brother-in-law and my sister purchased 110 acres of almonds in Atwater. That is how our family first became involved with almonds. A few years later, I decided to buy an almond orchard myself in Livingston. My brother-in-law said growing almonds is easy compared to milking cows. I started attending The Almond Conference in Modesto as a grower and I remember I was just electrified by what I saw and heard. I really enjoyed the consumer focus of the almond industry. So after nearly a decade as a grower, I was looking to make a career change. I joined Blue Diamond for two years and Summit Almonds for a few more. During that time, I got to know one of our suppliers, Vann Family Orchards who was looking to grow. I went to work for them about five years ago. Today, my wife and I own 140 acres of almonds and wine grapes. What does it mean to you to sit on ABC's Board of Directors? Joe: When my peers asked me if I'd be interested in running for the Board, I sat back and reflected on it. I realized it was my duty, not only for my family, but for the next generation of farmers. There are a lot of great industry leaders that are reaching that magic retirement age and it's time for the younger generation to step up and serve. There needs to be a new group of individuals that help push this industry along. My brothers and I are looking at the future – we want this to be a successful industry for our kids, just like how our dad helped make the industry successful for our generation. As a Board member, I hope to be involved directly in long-term strategic industry initiatives that help ensure we pass on a successful industry to the next generation. Bob: I'm deeply honored to be elected to the Board of Directors of the Almond Board of California. I think it's an incredible privilege and I am very aware of the responsibility that goes with it. I have some observer-type experiences with two other marketing commodity boards. I grew up around the California Milk Advisory Board, which is one of the largest commodity marketing boards in the United States and very successful. Over the last eight years, I've also attended many meetings for the California Walnut Board and Commission who's also been successful in their own right. That former experience and perspective made me appreciate the Almond Board of California that much more. In my opinion, ABC is the best and the most successful commodity marketing board in American agriculture. What are you looking forward to the most about your service? Joe: What I'm looking forward to is sharing a different perspective. There are plenty of generational growers out there and I think the Almond Board has done a great job getting us to this point. But I think there is an opportunity to freshen things up a little bit. My goal is to encourage creativity and out-of-the- box thinking amongst the staff and fellow Board members. I would like to try new things and if we don't get the outcome we want, then we regroup and try something else. Bob: I'm most excited about continuing the success the Almond Board has expereinced in overseas marketing. Joe Gardiner (left, pictured with brothers) Treehouse Almonds and Gardiner Farms Member, ABC Board of Directors 21

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