November 4, 2022

Grimmway’s Jeff Huckaby Named Grower of the Year at the Organic Grower Summit

This year, OGS provided growers with firsthand knowledge and information in areas ranging from agtech to food safety to sustainability, and the events at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa gave attendees the opportunity to watch cutting-edge panels, listen to keynotes from industry leaders and attend vital networking opportunities.

This year, the Grower of the Year was awarded to Jeff Huckaby, President of Grimmway Farms, headquartered in Bakersfield, Calif. During Huckaby’s 25-year tenure at Grimmway, the company’s organic program has grown from several hundred acres to more than 40,000 acres of certified organic ground. Huckaby was honored during a VIP reception at the Hyatt Regecy’s President’s House during the evening of Nov. 30.

Among the other panels:

*The keynote presentation, “Grower Rountable: The State of Organic Growing” was moderated by Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia, and feature Tom Nunes V, President of The Nunes Company; Michael DuPuis, Quality Assurance and Public Relations Coordinator at Divine Flavor and Brie Reiter Smith, Vice President of Product Leadership at Driscoll’s. “While consumption of fresh organic produce continues to climb, domestic growers face an unprecedented array of regulatory and marketplace challenges that threaten future growth,” Puglia said. “The leaders on this panel will share valuable insight into the state of the organic industry and strategies for turning obstacles into opportunities.”

*“Exploring the National Organic Research Agenda” was moderated by Brise Tencer, Executive Director, OFRF and Haley Baron, Partnership and Development Manager, OFRF, and feature panelists Steven Cardoza, Co-Owner, Cardoza and Cardoza Farms; Javier Zamora, Owner JSM Organics; Ari De Lara, NRCS and Asia Hampton, Program Manager, CA FarmLink.

*For ”Get Ahead of the Curve and Avoid Regulatory Speedbumps,” John Foster, COO of Wolf & Associates, moderated a panel discussion with Emily Musgrave, Organic Program Manager, Driscoll’s; Connie Karr, Certification Director, Oregon Tilth; and Tom Chapman, CEO and Executive Director, OTA; Robert Yang, Accreditation Division Director, NOP/USDA; and Jake Evans, Owner and CEO, True Organic Products.

*The panel ”Less Chemistry and More Biology” was moderated by Dennis Donohue, the Director of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas, Calif. Panelists included Pam Marrone, Advisor, Bioceres Crop Solutions; Don Cameron, Vice President and General Manager of Terranova Ranch; and Denise Manker, Director of Global Agronomic Development, Biologics, Bayer CropScience.

*At 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 30, Walt Duflock, VP of Innovation at Western Growers, will host “Meet the AgSharks,” a group of agtech innovators who were selected to present to the hundreds of growers, packers, shippers and industry leaders that attend the 2022 Western Growers Annual Meeting. Presenters included record-setting AgSharks winner Nutjobs alongside finalists En Solucion and SWAN Systems.

*”Technology and Robotics – Expanding On-Farm Profitability” took place on Dec. 1 at 9 a.m. The moderator was Seana Day, Partner, Culterra Capital. She was joined by panelists Paul Mikesell, CEO and Founder, Carbon Robotics; Gabe Sibley, CEO and Co-Founder Verdant Robotics and Bart Walker, President, Pacific Ag Rentals.

Please visit the Western Growers Facebook page to see photos from the event.