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The farm processes more than 120 million pounds of vegetable ingredients every year. The fact that Nestlé Company uses poblano peppers from GC Farms in its Lean Cuisine frozen dinners got air time on an ABC World News Tonight segment of “Made in America” last year. George’s passion for sustainable agriculture led him to collaborate with local scientist Mike Cox, owner of Anaerobe Systems in Morgan Hill. Mike has been working with George to develop a process to capture hydrogen, organic fertilizer and recyclable water from food processing waste. In 2015, GC Farms completed its new 82,000-square-foot Hollister facility to handle roasting, grilling and IQF (individually quick-frozen) food services. The move enabled a three-fold increase in capacity to process IQF and moisture balanced ready-to-eat vegetable ingredients. The Chiala family has a long history of philanthropy and community involve- ment, giving of their time and resources in support of non-profit organizations in South County. They have also been tireless and effective advocates for the preservation and innovation of agriculture in our region. Summer is BBQ time . . . If you haven’t checked out George Jr’s recipes on the GC Farms website, you’re missing out. Andi’s Orchard Andy’s Orchard specializes in tree-ripened heirloom stone fruit including Bing and Rainier cherries and Blenheim apricots as well as sweet peaches, lush plums and juicy nectarines. Some of the fruit is sold fresh-picked. The rest is sun-dried on vintage drying trays. Andy’s Orchard is named for owner Andy Mariani, a popular figure in the community. “Our family owns about 55 acres,” Andy said. “It was vineyards before our family came. We planted prunes and apricots. When Turkish apricots hit the market at about a third of the price of our product, many consumers went for the cheaper though much less flavorful product. This influenced us to shift our business and grow more cherries. Andy Mariani “Farming is a creative process, working with Mother Nature. She brings drought, then El Niño, which keeps us on our toes.” Well, we’ve got good soil and many of the trees in our orchards have been lovingly tended for over 30 years, so they produce the best-tasting fruit you’ll find anywhere. These fruits are delicate, so everything’s hand-picked. Experienced pickers are hard to come by and we often have to bring in people from as far away as Modesto, Lindsay and Kingsburg. Some of my crew has worked for me for 20 to 40 years. They know my orchards and know how to pick.” Andy is known as a good-natured guy. But when it comes to the topic of preserving agriculture he tells it like it is. “Farm work kicks up dust, field equip- ment makes noise. When we established our farm decades ago there was no development. Now we’re surrounded on three sides. Neighbors and commuters sometimes find our operations less than convenient and they let us know about it . . . like we’re the interlopers,” he said with a laugh. Like other farmers, Andy has seen the gradual impacts of climate change and urban development, and hopes the County of Santa Clara and local cities will maintain open space, a green- belt, to preserve our ag lands. While the bulk of Andy’s business is wholesale and worldwide, customers GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2016 can place orders on his website, and his Morgan Hill store allows him to offer his products direct to the South County community. Every year, Andy’s Orchard hosts a holiday open house with fruit tasting, which Andy likens to wine tasting. Customers not only rave about the fruit but also the specialty food items – from handcrafted chocolate covered nuts and fruits to local honey, olive oil and jams – all of which make great holiday and housewarming gifts. Andy’s face always lights up at feedback from happy customers, something he never gets tired of hearing. Christopher Ranch In the mid to late 1900s, Christopher Ranch got America excited about garlic and put Gilroy on the map as a garlic mecca. Today, Christopher Ranch pro- duces some 70 million pounds of its fla- vorful Monviso heirloom varietal. While garlic is the mainstay crop, there is no “off season” at Christopher Ranch. Each garlic harvest is followed by the planting of bell peppers, corn and specialty onions. According to Bill Christopher, “We’ve been growing garlic here for 60 years and we’d like to continue to grow our business here. But agriculture needs to be treated differently than other industries, because it is different. The county’s ag industry gmhtoday.com 61