Community leaders gathered Thursday in recognition of the contributions of San Benito County’s agricultural community. In addition to a rich, agricultural heritage here, there is a strong tradition of giving back among our farming and ranching community. They are often silent in their philanthropy, donating food, services and funds quietly yet consistently to benefit the larger community. A group of dedicated farmers and ranchers was nominated by the non-profit community including:

  • Eugene and Pauline Zanger
  • Cathy and Tony Alameda
  • Dale and Christine Coke
  • John and Vicki Brigantino
  • Frank and Joyce Guerra
  • In memory of Beverley Tobias
  • Joe and Karen Tonascia and
  • Jamii and Stan Pura

Agriculture is San Benito county’s largest industry, with an annual value of more than $260 million. The largest crops are vegetables, lettuce & salads, bell peppers, spinach, nursery stock, cattle, fruits & nuts, grapes & wine and tomatoes – many of the foods found on Americans’ plates every day, and grown right here in San Benito County’s rich soils and perfect climate. Together, agriculture employs more than 5,000 residents and acts as a true economic driver in the community. In addition to farm and ranch jobs, there are many businesses that benefit from agriculture including everything from auto dealerships to downtown merchants and feed stores to law firms.

The non-profit community benefits from agriculture as well:

  • Growers are often the first to donate when it comes to events and other activities hosted by our non-profits;
  • Our local food bank receives tons of healthy fruit and vegetables via weekly donations from farmers who want to give back to their community;
  • Farms and ranches provide a scenic backdrop of open space creating beauty all around us;
  • Many of our community leaders come from agricultural backgrounds and quietly give back with their time serving on boards and providing ongoing financial support to schools, non-profits and churches;
  • Established programs like 4-H and Future Farmers of America are led by members of our agricultural community who believe in nurturing our youth to become strong leaders and community builders.

The sold-out event drew more than 300 community members.