(MONTEREY, CA—October 11, 2023) The Organic Grower Summit presented by Western Growers and OPN will honor longtime organic grower Rod Braga as the recipient of the sixth annual Grower of the Year award. Braga, President and CEO of Braga Fresh Family Farms, 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 Braga as part of the keynote presentation at the Organic Grower Summit on November 29-30 in Monterey, California. The Grower of the Year presentation is part of an extensive educational program designed to inform and engage organic producers and their service providers and supply chain partners.
“We are honored to present the annual Grower of the Year award to Rod Braga—truly a grower’s grower,” said Matt Seeley, CEO of Organic Produce Network. “His decades-long work exemplifies what hardworking, passionate organic farming means to the success of his family farm and to California agriculture. Rod has worked tirelessly to encourage natural methods for pest control, water conservation, 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 makes him so deserving of the title of Grower of the Year.”
Braga grew up in his family’s multigenerational farming business, starting his first job on the home ranch when he was 8. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College of California with a degree in business administration, he joined the company now known as Braga Fresh full time in 1990. Over the years, he’s helped it expand into today’s operation, which features multiple large-scale growing, processing, and shipping locations in California.
A leader in organic produce production, Braga is a board member of the Western Growers Association and the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California; he was a founding board member of Pacific Valley Bank in Monterey County; and former board member of Natividad Hospital in Salinas, California.
The Grower of the Year award will be presented to Braga by Cale Sledge, Regional Sales Director for AGCO. Previous winners of the award have been Jeff Huckaby, CEO of Grimmway Farms (2022); Vic Smith, CEO of JV Smith Company (2021); the Lundberg Family (2019); Thaddeus Barsotti of Capay Organic (2018); and Vernon Peterson of Peterson Family Farms (2017).
The sixth annual OGS is designed to provide information vital to organic growers and producers, including an overview of the opportunities and challenges in the production of organic fresh food.
In addition to the annual Grower of the Year award, the other keynote presentation at OGS 2023 will be Grower Roundtable: The State of Organic Growing, moderated by Dave Puglia, President and CEO of Western Growers. Panelists for the keynote roundtable include leadership from three prominent organic companies, who will be announced later this month.
Other educational sessions slated for OGS 2023 include:
- SOE Deadline Looms—Are You Ready?
- Understanding Evolving Production Challenges for Organic Growers
- Regenerative—What Does it Mean for Organic?
- Unlocking the Value of AI on the Digital Farming Journey
- Meet the Ag Sharks
- Roadmap to a Sustainable Pest Management Future for Organics
- How Organic Growers Are Using Ag Tech: Obstacles & Opportunities
OGS 2023 will be held November 29-30 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California, and general registration is currently open. The sold-out OGS trade show floor will feature soil amendment, ag tech, food safety, packaging, and equipment exhibitors who will have the opportunity to connect with organic field production staff, supply chain managers, pest management advisors, and food safety experts.
For more information on the sixth annual OGS, please visit www.organicgrowersummit.com.
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 complemented by engaging live events that bring together various components of the organic food community. The OPN audience includes organic producers, handlers, distributors, processors, wholesalers, foodservice operators, and retailers.
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 US 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.