Leadership Lodi is a course dedicated to inspiring and motivating individuals from our community to attain higher levels of leadership. Formed through the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce in 1990, the hands-on workshops, interviews with local leaders, and non-profit projects have made an immense impact on Lodi as a whole. During the course of Leadership Lodi, participants go through ten all-day meetings with different facets of the community. The mission for this month was to introduce all of the Leadership Lodi 2019 participants to the wonderful educational opportunities that exist in and around Lodi.
The class spent one day this week exploring the local agricultural scene. The informative day began with a tour and education of the history of Lodi’s agricultural landscape and current affairs from the Chamber Agribusiness Committee members at the San Joaquin County Historical Museum. From there, the group made their way to Rivermaid Trading Company where they witnessed the hustle and bustle of the facility during the busy cherry packing season and learned the risks for cherry crops during the impending rain scheduled in the upcoming weather forecast. The Rivermaid facility is also home two subsidiary businesses: A Gift Inside, producing beautiful hand-packed gift baskets, and Branch to Box, offering office fruit delivery boxes for companies around the country.
The next stop of Agriculture Day was at the Woodbridge Irrigation District for a tour of the dam and irrigation pipeline. This intricate system provides water to approximately 13,000 acres of farmland in addition to supplying water to cities of Lodi and Stockton for municipal use. The group next stopped at the home of the Kautz family for lunch and an in-depth look at some of the farming equipment used for harvest from Vineyard Manager, Joe Valente. Next on the busy day of education was a stop at the Kautz family business, Bear Creek Winery, where they toured the facility funded in 1934 that produces premium bulk wine and custom blends for many winery clients, including Ironstone Vineyards.
Following lunch, the group visited Lima Ranch where owner Jack Hamm educated the group in the history, production, and importance of dairy farming. With over 1,800 Holstein cows, all the milk from his farm is sold to be made into Hilmar cheese. Hamm’s passion for his ranch was evident in the treatment and care for his farm and animals. “This is our life, and this is our business” he said. Next door, the Leadership Lodi class stopped into Calivirgin / Coldani Olive Ranch to learn about another important crop growing in popularity in Lodi: olives. What started as a senior project for Mike Coldani has blossomed into a growing industrial business with dozens of olive oil products and plans for a new winery & olive tasting room in 2020.
Leadership Lodi was submerged into the rich landscape of agriculture right in our local backyard. “One thing that really impressed me was that multiple farmers from Lima Ranch to Bear Creek Winery maintain their businesses through multiple generations,” said Erika Quinones of Leadership Lodi. “Keeping tradition in their families is important and the value of good, hard work is maintained through the generations.” The group ended the day back at San Joaquin County Historical Museum with a talk from the Chamber Agribusiness Committee on the importance of agriculture in our county.