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At its annual meeting May 20 at Corral de Tierra Country Club in Salinas, CA, the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California installed Steve Church of Church Bros., also based in Salinas, as chairman of the board.

Outgoing Chairman Lorri Koster, the second woman to hold the chairman's title in the organization's 80-year history and the third generation in her family to serve in the role, reflected on a year of unprecedented growth for the agricultural organization, briefed the membership on the association's activities, programs and services over the past year, and stressed the importance of local agriculture taking an active role in community issues.

The day's events included a presentation by Greg Drescher of the Culinary Institute of America on current trends for fresh produce in restaurants. Mr. Church was inaugurated in front of more than 100 members and dignitaries. He spoke about major changes in the industry over the last 10 years and touched on examples of outstanding innovation in local agriculture since the 1930s, including ice cooling, the invention of bagged salad and the successes of drip irrigation. He also touched on the struggles and challenges the industry has faced.

"I always find solace in knowing that the produce business is filled with humility and pride," a press release quoted him as saying to those in attendance. "Anyone who's walked a field of gorgeous greens growing in our fertile Salinas and Pajaro valley ground knows what I mean by pride. Each day I'm proud of the job I and the rest of our great industry does."

Bill Ramsey of Mann Packing Co. was announced as the recipient of the association's annual E.E. (Gene) Harden Award for lifetime achievement in Central Coast agriculture. He will be presented the award officially at the organization's annual gala event to be held in June.

Mr. Church will lead the organization as its chairman until May 2011. Sam McKinsey of Green Giant Fresh is the vice chairman for the 2010-11 year. In addition to Messrs. Church and McKinsey, the 2010-11 Grower-Shipper Association of Central California’s board of directors will be made up of Phil Adrian of Coastline Produce, Mark Borman of Taylor Farms, Butch Corda of Ippolito International, Mike Costa of Costa Farms Inc., Andrew Cumming of Metz Fresh LLC, Margaret D'Arrigo-Martin of D'Arrigo Bros. Co. of California, Craig Dobler of Dobler & Sons LLC, Chris Huntington of Hilltown Packing, Ms. Koster of Mann Packing Co., Emmett Linder of Driscoll Strawberry Associates and Bob Martin of Rio Farms.