San Diego County Farm Bureau annually recognizes special people who support San Diego farming in unique ways.
2017 Farmer of the Year
Awarded to an active or retired farmer who has had a positive impact on our industry, is active in the community beyond agriculture, and has represented “a real farmer” at media events and public hearings to back up the farming cause.
When it was said that “behind every successful woman is herself”, they might as well have been talking about San Diego County Farm Bureau’s 2017 Farmer of the Year recipient, Julie Walker. Everyone knows the familiar and friendly face of the woman who effortlessly puts her all into everything she does. But besides kind and welcoming, Julie exhibits a fierce passion for Farm Bureau and agriculture, and she continuously puts that passion into action.
Julie and her husband Joe co-own and founded Obra Verde Growers nursery in Valley Center in 1974. Obra Verde, as translated in Spanish, reflects their work ethic of green product grown with green virtue. Specializing in Australian and Southern African cut flowers and plants, they are an exclusive distributer for several of these species in the United States, granted by the Department of Primary Industries out of Western Australia. The plants produced by Obra Verde Growers cover acres of San Diego farms producing perennial cut flower crops. In addition to the crop production, they are known as a breeding station where breeders from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia submit varieties for trialing onsite to test for unique characteristics, hardiness, drought-tolerance, and marketability.
As many are aware, farming in itself is a full time job. And still, Julie has spent many years and countless hours devoted to San Diego County Farm Bureau (SDCFB). For ten years, Julie served on the Executive Committee in every position, including President from 2013-2015. Three years later, Julie continues to serve as a distinguished selected advisor to the Executive Committee. She has also chaired many committees including the San Diego Grown Dinner, the San Diego County Fair, and the Nominating Committee. Julie also took an active role in the Capital Campaign committee raising funds for the SDCFB relocation.
In addition to being involved with several other county committees, Julie has also served on a number of California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) committees statewide, representing San Diego County. For numerous years, Julie was a delegate at the CFBF Annual Meeting. In fact, she gained a reputation amongst the stet delegates opposing superfluous or late-submitted agenda items that resulted in a permanent change in the meeting procedures.
Not only has SDCFB benefited from Julie’s passion towards agriculture, but she has also generously dedicated her time to many other associations as well. As one of the founders of the San Diego Chapter of California Women for Agriculture, Julie remains active within that organization today. Jena Francis, President of CWA (San Diego Chapter), has great admiration for Julie, explaining, “Her passion for all things agriculture is contagious. She epitomizes our group, dedicating time and resources to promote a strong agriculture industry and helping to develop the interest specifically of women in agriculture. She leads by example with her character, commitment, encouragement, and kindness. She has a gentle persuasion that gets you to say yes with a smile.”
Julie has also served on several other boards including California Association of Flower Growers and Shippers and the San Diego County Flower and Plant Association.
Julie herself is San Diego grown, having been raised on an avocado and citrus ranch in Fallbrook. She graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in Education. When Julie isn’t busy lending San Diego agriculture her assistance, she spends her time being a devoted wife, mother to three grown children and doting on her four grandchildren.
Friend of Agriculture
Bestowed upon the person who has made significant contributions to the well-being of agriculture in San Diego County and is held in high esteem by members of the agriculture community.
A former rock and roll photographer and an artistic welder, Mim has worked within the Encinitas Union School District since 2008 helping create school gardens and promote responsible environmental practices. Mim is also the founder of the New Encinitas Town Council and served as a board member of the San Diego Ag in the Classroom from 2011-2018. She is also one of the original members of the Encinitas Union School District’s Green Team and currently serves as the Director of EUSD Farm Lab. Her dedication to providing nutritional wellness education along with urban farming instruction to schools and community groups makes Mim very deserving of this award.
Presented to a Farm Bureau member who has made an extraordinary volunteer contribution to or on behalf of the organization to the benefit of all members.
Ken is the owner and President of Altman Specialty Plants Inc. in Vista, CA. Founded in 1973 with his wife, Deena, Altman Plants rose out of a cacti and succulent hobby that out grew their backyard. Altman Plants currently has facilities in Southern and Northern California, Arizona, and Florida. During Ken’s term as SDCFB president from 2015-2017 he was the driving force behind the creation of the Building Committee that led to the sale of the former SDCFB location, acquisition of an income-producing commercial building, and the purchase of the new SDCFB location near downtown Escondido. Relocation had been a SDCFB goal for more than a decade and through Ken’s leadership it became a reality with the bonus of rental income from a second property that will help sustain the organization well into the future.
San Diego Grown 365 Award
Presented to an individual that personifies the connection between locally produced farm products and the members of the San Diego County community.
Previously the owner of The Red Door Restaurant and BAR by Red Door in San Diego, Trish has been a long-time and strong supporter of local farming and the farm-to-table movement. Trish founded the San Diego Farm to Fork Week in 2017, celebrating local chefs, farmers, ranchers, and nurserymen. Growing up in a farming community in rural Maryland, Trish is no stranger to working hard on the farm. In the early 80s she and her husband Tom homesteaded a 32 acre organic farm where she learned firsthand that farming is rewarding, but not romantic. Her advocacy for local farmers, a fair food system, and nutrition education is abounding. Trish is currently the Vice Chair of the Board at Olivewood Gardens, a voting member of the San Diego Food System Alliance, and a member of the advisory board for the Berry Good Food Foundation.