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Farmers, supporters honored at luncheon

WATSONVILLE — In the early days of the country, the majority of Americans were either involved in agriculture themselves or had a family member who was.

Fast forward to 2018, when many children think their food comes from the supermarket.

The Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau called on community members Wednesday to bridge that gap and encourage young people to consider careers in agriculture.

That was the message from Thomas Broz, president of the farm bureau, during the National Agriculture Day Spring Luncheon at the fairgrounds.

“The National Ag Day program believes that every American should understand how food is produced and the role that agriculture plays in our strong economy,” he said.

To get young people interested in the industry, the farm bureau hosts an annual poster and poetry contest for Santa Cruz County students.

This year, Holy Cross School second-grader Balam Landaverry won the poster contest, and Monte Vista Christian School seventh-grader Kayley Batt received first place in the poetry contest for her work titled “A Fruit’s Lifetime.”

According to Broz, 18,000 placemats featuring last year’s winning poster and poetry entries have been distributed to county restaurants.

St. Francis High School senior Meghan Clifton was awarded the $4,000 Jimmie Cox Memorial Scholarship. Clifton plans on attending either Fresno State University, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo or Purdue University in the fall to study agricultural communications.

Santa Cruz County Bank was honored with the 2018 Al Smith Friend of Agriculture award, which is presented annually to an individual, business or organization that is not directly involved in the production of agriculture, yet supports the industry in other ways.

As an agricultural lender, the bank has supported farmers and business owners over the years with their endeavors, said Shadowbrook Restaurant owner Ted Burke, who presented the award. It has also sponsored events and programs such as the Progressive Dinner, Down to Earth Women Luncheon and Focus Agriculture.

Executive Vice President Fred Caiocca thanked the staff at the bank.

“The agricultural industry has been most welcoming to us,” he said.

The award is named after Al Smith, who was the founder of Orchard Supply Hardware.

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