John and Jeani Ferrari are passionate about conserving the area’s richest resource, its farmland. The second-generation growers of sweet potatoes, walnuts and almonds, they are also longtime supporters of the California Farmland Trust and its mission. For their years of service, the Ferraris will be recognized on Aug. 26 with the 2021 California Farmland Trust’s Vance Kennedy Award.
The Vance Kennedy Award was established 2014 in honor of Dr. Vance Kennedy, a founding member, for his extraordinary contribution to the California Farmland Trust. Award recipients demonstrate significant commitment and contributions that have furthered the protection of farmland and the farms that feed your family.
“Farmland Working Group was formed as a non-profit organization with a bold mission statement: to preserve the agricultural foundation of our region and promote smart growth in our urban communities through education, outreach and action. The organization’s printed materials start with a broad vision: ‘Striving to protect food, families and farmland,’” said Jeani Ferrari. “Farmland Working Group recognizes the urgency of preserving Stanislaus County’s highly productive farmland for the long-term.”
California Farmland Trust was started in 1995 at the request of then Congressman Gary Condit. Back then it was known as the Farmland Working Group (FWG) and they discussed the important issues of preserving agriculture land in the local region of the Central Valley. Jeani Ferrari started attending meetings in 1998 and became the first president in 1999. She continues serve on the executive board 22 years later.
The Ferraris have an agricultural conservation easement on one of their farms and hope to permanently protect additional farmland in the future. John and Jeani Ferrari have a vision for a vibrant future where agriculture not only remains viable, but thrives, thus allowing the third and future generations to keep farming.
“Without the farmland, Stanislaus County would have no agriculture foundation, no farmers, processors, distributors or the dozens of commodities and foods,” said Jeani Ferrari. “Our mission is to preserve the agricultural foundation of our region and promote smart growth in our urban communities through education, outreach and action.”
The Ferraris believe that it is up to local communities to preserve farmland and make sure we have a thriving agriculture industry for the future.
“It will not be the State of California or the county that protects the important farmland surrounding Turlock. The state and county have fixed borders. It will be up to the cities in Stanislaus County, as well as the surrounding region of the Central Valley, to protect the state’s most important non-renewable resource, the agricultural land the high-quality irrigation system that makes this farmland the world’s most productive,” Jeani Ferrari said.
In addition, their community engagement spans from the Farmland Working Group that Jeani Ferrari spearheads to inform the public about land use policies and farmland protection, to the arts, specifically the Carnegie Arts Center and the library at Stanislaus State. Also, John and Jeani Ferrari are committed to the Turlock Gospel Mission and co-chaired a fundraising campaign to complete the shelter.