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Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class of 2024- Agriculture Day

The Leadership Santa Maria Valley class embarked on an informative and insightful day, visiting key players in the agriculture and food production industry in the central coast region. The day included visits to Plantel Nurseries, Argo-Jal Strawberry Fields, Bonipak Cooler, and concluded with a visit to RiverBench Winery.


Our day commenced at Plantel Nurseries, where we had the privilege of meeting Scott Nicholson. He guided us through the nursery, providing an in-depth look at the early stages of produce growth. We observed the planting process, from seeds placed in trays to their nurturing in greenhouses.


Our second stop took us to Argo-Jal Strawberry Fields, adjacent to a truck stop. We were greeted by Gonzo Maldonado and Alejandra Maldonado, who shared the rich history of the Maldonado family and their significant contributions to the strawberry industry. We had the opportunity to witness strawberry picking and gain insights into the cultivation process. Later, we toured their cooling facility, where strawberries are prepared for distribution.

The next leg of our journey led us to the Bonipak cooler, where Jereme Verdin and Ralph Sanchez provided a comprehensive tour. We observed how the produce arrives at the cooler, gets checked in, and undergoes processing. We also marveled at Bonipak's commitment to sustainability, as they showcased their solar panel installation for electricity.


During lunch, Ed Carcarey delivered a motivational presentation to our leadership class. He emphasized the importance of understanding our purpose and passion while serving the community. The entire class found his speech inspiring, reinforcing the significance of serving with a clear sense of purpose.


Our day concluded with a visit to RiverBench Winery, where Grant Harmsen guided us through the wine-making process. We gained insights into the nuances of grape varieties and the art of crafting different types of wines. Additionally, we learned about the winery's history and the meticulous process involved in producing a single bottle of wine.


This leadership team outing provided us with valuable insights into the agriculture and food production industries in the central coast region. We appreciate the hospitality of our hosts and the opportunity to deepen our understanding of these vital sectors.

Scott Nicholson of Plantel Nursery showing the leadership team plants of celery that were grown at their facility.

Jereme Verdin of Bonipak explained the transporting logistics showing class members the process of produce arriving from the fields to being loaded on trucks for distribution. 

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