Tom Jones, Windward Farming Company, Salinas, Calif. is the new chairman of the California Strawberry Commission. A member of the commission board of directors for six years, Jones previously served as vice chairman and chairman of the research committee.
Born in Georgia, Jones moved to California with his family as a teenager, and started his agriculture career by harvesting melons in high school. He began working in the strawberry industry in the Watsonville area in the early 1980s, starting his own farm in 1992 in the Salinas Valley.
He has been growing strawberries for 23 years. \Jones converted part of his operations to organic eight years ago, with about 10 percent of his acreage currently in organic production.
“I am honored by the confidence that the board of directors has shown in me,” said Jones. “I take this commitment seriously and look forward to working with all segments of the industry as we look towards the future.”
Elected to the vice chairman seat, Neil Nagata, Nagata Bros. Farms, San Luis Rey, currently serves as president of the California Strawberry Growers Scholarship Fund, and served the past two years as the chairman of the research committee. Nagata has served as a commission board member since 1991.
He is the third generation in his family to grow strawberries in southern California. Both his grandfather and father also served on industry advisory boards, too. A graduate of UC Davis, Nagata majored in entomology.
Newly elected secretary/treasurer Bill Reiman, Catalinos Berry Farms, Oxnard, was elected to the commission board in 2000. Also a graduate of UC Davis, Reiman is a fourth generation farmer in Ventura County. He has worked in all aspects of the strawberry industry, launching the current operation in 2002.
The commission represents an industry of approximately 600 growers, shippers and processors.