We have farmed in the Arroyo Grande Valley for three generations and one of the things that makes me proud is the commitment we’ve made in our family business to making our community a better place. I feel very fortunate to be part of a local family business, as that allows for many opportunities for community involvement. In fact this is now stated in the second sentence of our company mission statement: We strive to do our very best with our people, our land and in our community.
The tradition of community commitment began in my grandparents’ generation and they did what they could at the same time as they built a fledgling farming operation from scratch. My parents' generation learned from my grandparents' example and their investment in the community grew. My father served on the Arroyo Grande City Council and as Mayor of Arroyo Grande in the early 1970s. My mother took a very active leadership role in the fundraising effort that resulted in the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly.
In my generation, led by the efforts of my wife Johnine, we established the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers in 2004 to provide charitable support to non-profit organizations that benefit the farm worker community in San Luis Obispo County. Our main fundraiser for this effort is a charity wine called Mano Tinto which results in an annual contribution of nearly $50,000 to the Fund. Mano Tinta connects us to the artists in our community through a label art contest (which is currently underway) where we select artwork for the label that changes with each vintage.
Our other key charitable initiative is the Marianne Talley Foundation, a Memorial Scholarship Foundation that we established in 1993 when my sister passed away. What began as a single scholarship for female student athletes has blossomed into the three separate scholarships that has benefited more than 40 students over the past 22 years. Marian Fiorentino is hard at work organizing the Marianne Talley Fun Run on June 7, our annual fundraiser for the Foundation.
My family and I are grateful that the community has embraced and supported the Marianne Talley Foundation and the Fund for Vineyard and Farm Workers. We are also inspired by the great community support we witness in some of the smaller ongoing programs we participate in. We have hosted the Branch School Pumpkin Patch, a fundraiser for our local public elementary school for about 15 years. We make a weekly donation of produce to the San Luis Obispo County Food Bank. We partner with GleanSLO to minimize waste of unharvested vegetables. We are active supporters of Arroyo Grande Community Hospital.
I speak for my family and our employees when I say that we do these things because we consider ourselves blessed to live in a very special community. It brings us joy to know that we’re doing something to make our place a little more special.