WATSONVILLE — Heritage Hall at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds was bustling late Wednesday morning as guests of the National Agriculture Day Spring Luncheon eagerly lined up for food.
The annual event, put on by the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau and the Agri-Culture organization, hosts community members, including many farmers and other individuals involved in the local agriculture industry. Brendan Miele, president of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau, served as its Master of Ceremonies while guests enjoyed a fresh meal prepared by Barbara and Company Catering.
Doron Comerchero, founder and executive director of youth organization Food, What?!, was this year’s special guest speaker. Food, What?! aims to empower low-income and struggling youth across the county about how to grow, cook, eat and distribute healthy food while addressing food justice issues.
Many awards were handed out at the luncheon, including the Al Smith Friend of Agriculture Award. This year’s award was presented to Tony Scurich of Scurich Insurance Services. The Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau thanked Scurich for his “strong support of local agriculture.”
Other award winners included Joseph Ramirez, who was selected as the 2019 recipient of the Jimmie Cox Memorial Scholarship. Ramirez, a senior at St. Francis High School, will be graduating this spring and attending a university to study plant science. The $4,000 scholarship was funded in partnership with American AgCredit.
Every year the National Ag Day Poster and Poetry Contests are held in conjunction with the luncheon. The work of the first place winners are featured on placemats at various restaurants across the county, as well as at the next year’s luncheon.
Seventh-grader Bridget Smith from Monte Vista Christian School won this year’s poetry contest, and she read her poem, entitled “Waves of Green,” aloud at the luncheon.
The winner of the poster contest was Luna Caddes, a sixth-grader at Santa Cruz Montessori. Her work, inspired by this year’s theme of “Grown in Santa Cruz and the Pajaro Valley,” was on display at the event.
A number of other notable people attended the event, including County Supervisor Zach Friend, Watsonville Mayor Francisco Estrada and Scotts Valley Mayor Jack Dilles. Agri-Culture President Steve Bontadelli also spoke at the luncheon.