The Grower-Shipper Association of Central California has presented its E.E. “Gene” Harden Award for Lifetime Achievement in Central Coast Agriculture to Jim Lugg of Fresh Express.

The award was formally presented to Lugg during the organization’s annual dinner dance. Grower-Shipper Chairman of the Board Dennis Donohue, Fresh Express President Tanios Viviani, and Grower-Shipper President Jim Bogart presided over the presentation.

Lugg’s career in agriculture spans over six decades. His many contributions to agriculture include:

• Helped develop the modified atmosphere used to ensure longer shelf-life for processed lettuce packaged as bagged salads and formed TransFresh in 1966;

• Instrumental in lettuce seed development, dating back to before coated seeds were an industry standard;

• Past chair of the College of Natural Resources Advisory Board at U.C. Berkeley and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Committee at U.C. Davis;

• Active in the California Leafy Green Handlers Marketing Agreement and a participant in numerous panels where he shares expansive food safety knowledge; and

• Has worked for Fresh Express/TransFresh in research and food safety for 45 years as of April 1, 2008.

Also, as part of the festivities surrounding the presentation of the award, Viviani announced that Chiquita Brands International will establish one of its two world-wide research facilities at 607 Brunken Street in Salinas, Calif.

The research facility will be named the James R. Lugg Research Center, in recognition of Lugg's many years of outstanding service to Fresh Express and the agriculture industry.

“This is a major contribution to food safety research and technology by Chiquita Brands which will have a positive impact on local agriculture and the community,” said GSA Chairman and Salinas Mayor Donohue.

“The Grower-Shipper Association is very proud that Mr. Viviani chose our event to make this major announcement,” Donohue said. “The fact that this facility will be named in honor of our Harden Award recipient Jim Lugg makes it extra special. This announcement is a significant step in Salinas’ efforts to position itself as the ‘Fresh Intellectual’ center of the industry. We are honored and grateful to Chiquita and Fresh Express for this incredible contribution to our community.”