The Western Growers Family of Companies mourns the passing of former board member Tom D. Bengard, patriarch of Bengard Ranch and a beloved agricultural industry veteran.
Tom came from a family of true agricultural pioneers in the Salinas Valley. His grandparents, James Bardin and Wes Eade, journeyed to California in the late 1800s in search of rich farming and grazing land. A little less than 100 years later, grandchildren Tom and Terry Bengard established Tom Bengard Ranch, Inc. in 1961 as a grower-shipper operation.
During the farm’s humble beginnings, Tom tended to his farm of sugar beets, small white beans, potatoes and Spring lettuce, later transitioning to row crops as he accrued more land. No stranger to hard work, Tom did most of the labor himself at the start and could often be seen around his farm driving tractors, planting, irrigating, and even performing shop repairs.
Tom served as a Western Growers board member from 1984 until he retired in 2000, passing Bengard Ranch on to the next generation of farmers. His son Bardin, President of Bengard Ranch, has served as a board member of Western Growers since 2001.
Today, Tom’s legacy continues to live on. Bengard Ranch is a grower and shipper of vegetables, including broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, celery, radicchio, spinach and mixed lettuce. It is one of the largest grower-shippers in the Western U.S., with farms in California and Arizona and extensive operations in Mexico and Florida.