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Almond Roadshow greets, educates growers

Tim Hearden WFP-hearden-almond-roadshow-060521.jpg
Tom Devol and Michael Roots of the Almond Board of California stand near the organization’s custom-painted van during an outreach event May 11 in Atwater, Calif.
Almond Board of California taking custom-painted van to 20 cities in in-person outreach effort.

The Almond Board of California couldn’t hold its annual conference in person in December because of coronavirus-related restrictions on public gatherings, so its leaders recently brought a little of the gathering to growers.

Board officials have pulled out their custom-painted van depicting the goodness of California almonds and are taking their show on the road, greeting growers and handing out materials in 20 cities.

The tour started in Corning on May 4 and is set to finish in Shafter on May 20.

Almond board employees are handing out brochures on current research and best farming practices along with collectable baseball caps and other swag, but mainly what they brought was some much-appreciated face-to-face conversation.

“The whole reason we’re doing the road show is we didn’t have a conference,” said Tom Devol, the almond board’s senior manager of field outreach and education. “We just want to hear from growers, and this is a really good opportunity for that.”

The events were held at various agribusinesses – mainly irrigation companies, as scheduling watering is on the minds of growers this time of year. One of the stops May 11 was at Atwater Irrigation Co. in Atwater.

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Each stop has attracted about 20 growers on average. In Atwater, Thomas Gannon of Gannon Farms wanted to hear the latest news from the board, he said. He recently expanded his orchard to about 5,000 acres, up from 3,000 when he started.

He said outreach efforts such as the almond board’s are lots of help to growers.

“We’re keeping up with pest control, industry facts and figures, what the growing trends are, whether to prune or not prune,” Gannon said.

The board’s 2018 Sprinter cargo van is adorned with art showing almonds in all four seasons. It has been featured at orchard events, said Rebecca Bailey, a board outreach and industry relations specialist.

“We got tired of using our own vehicles and putting so many tables in this car and so many in that car,” she said. The van carries the board’s gear in addition to being a “driving billboard,” she said.

“It’s been great,” Devol said. “One grower had his postcard (announcing the event). Some of them know what we’re doing, and some don’t know what it’s about. They really appreciate us coming to their town.”

To check out the van's remaining stops, click here.

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