March 1, 2023

Director Profile: Craig Alameda, Treasurer, Topflavor Farms, Inc.

Craig Alameda, Treasurer, Topflavor Farms, Inc.

Director since 2022  |  Member since 1993  |  D-2 Yuma

Craig Alameda discovered his love of agriculture at an early age while working alongside his grandfather, father and brothers at grower-packer-shipper L.S. Williams Company in Fremont, Calif. “Farming was bred into us,” he said, as he recalls his days of picking cucumbers, harvesting cauliflower and lettuce and driving tractors in the summertime during his teenage years.

“One of our jobs as kids was to try and make straight rows, doing it by eye and the seat of your pants,” he said. “So much has changed in my 45 years in ag. We went from hand-leveling to laser-leveling and GPS-leveling, and now we have GPS on our tractors to make rows and tractors that drive themselves.”

Alameda graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in ag business. It wasn’t long after that the owner of L.S. Williams was looking to sell the company and retire. The timing seemed all too perfect. Alameda and his brothers came together to buy the farm and officially start their family business, which became The Alameda Company in 1984.

“We were a grower-packer-shipper. I handled the payroll and accounting and also sold cauliflower and lettuce. One of my brothers was out in the field running operations and the other was doing the harvesting,” Alameda said.

But after facing some economic hardships, mostly due to inclement weather and record storms, the brothers had to look for different options to keep the business afloat. Perfect timing set in again after Skyview Cooling reached out to Alameda and his brothers to assist and manage its operations in Mexico during the winter months.

“They needed someone to help supervise and grow cauliflower. It was a total cultural awakening coming down to Yuma, but it gave us a great opportunity to learn a different area. We realized there were bigger areas to farm than just our neck of the woods, and it really opened our eyes for new opportunities available to us,” he said.

After spending a few years in the region, grower-shipper Tanimura & Antle reached out to Alameda and his brothers with an opportunity to farm for them in Yuma. In 1991, Topflavor Farms, Inc. was born, which has since grown into a diverse family farming operation that produces a variety of crops, including romaine lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, kale and much more.

At Topflavor Farms, Alameda sits as Treasurer, and his brothers Steve and Tony hold the positions of President and Vice President, respectively. “We aren’t that big on titles,” Alameda said. “We make all of our decisions as a group—that’s the magical deal. When there’s two, you usually can’t decide on anything. With three, there’s a tiebreaker.”

Alameda was elected to the Western Growers Board last fall and is currently serving his first year. “I’ve always been the guy behind the curtain, and when it came up that I had been nominated, I couldn’t believe anyone knew who I was. It was quite an honor,” Alameda said. “I am blown away by all the people on the board. It’s like a ‘Who’s Who in Ag.’ It’s been amazing to hear about everyone’s experiences and life stories.”

One of his goals for serving on the board is to address costly food safety and liability insurance costs. “There are many issues facing growers today, from water and labor and everything in between. It’s the nature of our business. Costs have been driven up by recalls, fires and weather catastrophes all over the country. I think everyone can agree on this issue and band together to see how we can improve these rates under one big umbrella.”