OGS announces Grower of the Year award recipient – Produce Blue Book – Produce Blue Book


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Monterey, CA – The Organic Grower Summit, Presented by Western Growers BB #: 144734 and the Organic Produce Network BB #: 338018 will honor long-time organic grower Vic Smith as the recipient of the fourth annual Organic Grower Summit’s Grower of the Year.
Smith, CEO of JV Smith Companies, was selected based on his ongoing commitment and dedication to excellence in organic production, organic industry leadership, and innovation.
The Grower of the Year award, sponsored by AGCO, will be presented to Smith as part of the Keynote presentation at the Organic Grower Summit, December 1-2 in Monterey, CA.
The fourth annual OGS is designed to provide information vital to organic growers and producers, as well as an overview of the opportunities and challenges in the production of organic fresh food. The Grower of the Year presentation is part of an extensive educational program designed to inform and engage organic producers, their service providers, and supply chain partners.

Vic Smith (left) and Kristen Smith-Eshaya talking to
Greg Milstead (right)
“We are honored to present the annual Grower of the Year award to Vic Smith. Vic is truly a grower’s grower, and his decades long work exemplifies what hardworking, passionate organic farming is all about,” said Greg Milstead, director of sales, Southwest Region for AGCO.
Since 1991, Smith has overseen all the companies’ farming, packing, and cooling operations, including over 32,000 acres of vegetable production annually, half of which are grown organically.
He started his first organic operation in El Toro, San Luis, Mexico (a farming area across the border from Yuma, AZ). Within a year, he purchased an organic carrot operation in Colorado, and today farms a wide array of organic specialty crops including romaine, iceberg, celery, mixed leaf, and spinach.
“Over the past three decades, Vic has worked tirelessly to encourage water conservation, natural methods for pest control, and always found ways to share information about those practices with other organic farmers. His dedication to the environment and community is what makes the organic sector special and make him so deserving of the title of Grower of the Year,” said Milstead.
Previous winners of the award have been The Lundberg Family (2019); Thaddeus Barsotti of Capay Organic (2018); and Vernon Peterson of Peterson Family Farms (2017).
OGS 2021 will be held December 1-2 at the Monterey Hyatt Conference Center in Monterey, CA, with exhibition and general registration currently open. The OGS trade show floor is sold out, with exhibitors including companies involved with soil amendments, ag technology, food safety, packaging, and equipment connecting with organic field production staff, supply chain managers, pest control advisors, and food safety experts.
Among other educational sessions slated for 2021 OGS are:
• Building Resilience through Organic Farming Systems
• SmartFarm: AgTech in the Field
• Organic Grower Perspectives on the Challenges of Scaling
• Growing and Selling in the Mexican Organic Market
• Are Regenerative and Sustainability Labeling Good for Organics?
• Organics at Retail—Performance and Consumer Expectations
“In partnership with Western Growers, this year’s OGS will provide up-to-date resources and information to support the continued success of organic producers, with an emphasis on the role of ag technology,” said Tonya Antle, co-founder of the Organic Produce Network. “From seed to soil to harvest, our goal is to present the most relevant information on the most important subjects and issues facing organic production.”
About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado, and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries, so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.
About Organic Produce Network:
OPN is a marketing organization serving as the go-to resource for the organic fresh produce industry. The company’s mission is to inform and educate through a strong digital presence with an emphasis on original content and complimented by engaging live events which bring together various components of the organic food community. The OPN audience includes organic producers, handlers, distributors, processors, wholesalers, foodservice operators, and retailers.

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