Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Winning photos showcase bounty of California farms and ranches

A photo of a tractor driver working in an apricot orchard amid a waist-high slash of brilliant yellow mustard earned the top prize in the 2011 California Farm Bureau Federation photo contest.

Charlie Olson, a Santa Clara County Farm Bureau member whose family has farmed in the Bay Area since 1899, humorously titled his photo "Cutting the Mustard." Mustard is often used as a cover crop in orchards and vineyards to help control weeds and pests, and keep soil healthy and navigable. Olson farms apricots and cherries in Sunnyvale; his daughter operates a fruit stand there that Olson's mother opened in 1933.

"I called the photo 'Cutting the Mustard' because it's slang for a job well done," Olson said. "I take pictures to keep a chronology of the growing season, but this picture is also a tribute to my tractor driver Ralph Appio. He's 80 years old now and probably as good a tractor driver as any in the valley."

Olson, 76, added that his mechanic is 91 and his carpenter is 90—"all old-timers that were farmers at one time. Everybody fills in and does what needs to be done."

The 30th annual California Farm Bureau photo contest challenged Farm Bureau members throughout the state to capture images of family farmers and ranchers, the lands they tend and the bounty they provide. Entries were divided into five categories: "Grown in California," "Rural Scenic," "All in a Day's Work on the Farm," "Kids and Critters on the Farm" and "Budding Artists."

Olson's Grand Prize photo earned him a $500 award. Other winning photos brought in prizes ranging from $100 to $250.

Claudia Valente of Lodi won first prize in the "Grown in California" category for a close-up view of figs ready to be plucked from the tree. Shafter rancher Marlene Bell's portrait of a pair of Horned Dorset sheep earned second place.

A barn outlined by the intense colors of a winter sunrise and a gauzy layer of fog provided the subject for Bruce R. Bergman's winning photograph in the "Rural Scenic" category. He farms in McArthur. Kerry Crain of Red Bluff took time out during a family road trip to photograph cows grazing at the foot of Mount Lassen, which earned second prize.

An inexpensive camera stashed in a diaper bag captured the first-place photo in the "All in a Day's Work on the Farm" category. Shannon Douglass of Orland took the picture of her husband installing irrigation pipe when she and their young son delivered dinner. Second-place honors went to farmer Keith R. Gentz of Lincoln, who photographed his crew baling hay in a highway median.

In the "Kids and Critters on the Farm" category, Lane Johnson, 14, won first place for a photo of his cowboy-clad brother holding the family dog. The ranching family belongs to the Placer County Farm Bureau. A male turkey preening in front of a driveway safety mirror brought laughter from the judges and a second-place award for Jon R. Swanson, a recently retired Paso Robles winegrape grower.

Twelve-year-old Marie Simmons of Riverside earned top honors in the "Budding Artists" category for a photo of her father and grandfather inspecting the spinach crop on the family's Holtville property. The California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom sponsored the category, open to children 13 and younger. Harry Matthiasson, a 13-year-old from Napa, won the second-place award after crawling into a creek bed to capture the perfect angle of an antique farm implement.

All 11 prize-winning photos will be published in the weekly California Farm Bureau newspaper, Ag Alert®, as well as its bimonthly magazine, California Bountiful. The winning images will also be posted on the Farm Bureau websites, and, as well as CFBF and California Bountiful social media pages.

The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of more than 74,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.

Reprinted with permission: California Farm Bureau Federation

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