a children ’ s book that is “ all about believing in yourself .” He published Elephant Garlic , a story in which , “ The Elephant tumbles along trying to find the perfect food . At the end he believes in himself and discovers elephant garlic . It ’ s delivering the message to kids that yes , things are hard and have been rough , but hold on and believe in yourself and things will pull through .”
He has given away 4,000 copies of the beautifully illustrated children ’ s picture book to schools in the Gilroy Unified School District and has plans to give away more . He will also be publishing a Halloween edition and plans for a Halloween event at Gilroy Gardens to do readings with a giant LCD screen , and animation the weekend of October 23-24 . “ It ’ s a purely philanthropic play . We ’ re uniquely able to do it because we have the resources of the ranch ,” he said .
That is not their only partnership with Gilroy Gardens , however . As the fate of the Garlic Festival remains up in
the air , Christopher Ranch will be partnering with Gilroy Gardens “ in launching a reimagined celebration of Garlic ,” he said . In the summer of 2022 , the two entities will offer a celebration of garlic and food at Gilroy Gardens . It may be a weekend , a month-long event , or an entire summer event , he said . They ’ re still working out the details . But what he knows for sure is that it will be , “ Something that respects my grandfather ’ s legacy , what my family has done for the community , but also championing garlic in a positive way .”
While it is his hope that the Garlic Festival does return in its traditional form , he said , “ If it doesn ’ t , the community will have this to hold onto .”
Christopher doesn ’ t take his and his company ’ s success for granted . As they remain the leading producer of garlic in the nation , producing 100 million pounds per year and selling to such big-name retailers as Safeway , Whole Foods and Costco , Christopher marvels at what his grandfather built from just 10 acres in the 1970s — to its current 6,000 acres .
Designated an essential service during the pandemic , they were allowed to remain open , and come to work . “ We recognize that we are very fortunate ,” he said .
They continue to pay that forward in numerous ways . Through their Christopher Family Foundation , established in 2019 , Ken ’ s vision is to provide for the community at large . “ My goal is to have the community know that the Christopher family is here , that we ’ re a willing partner , and that whatever we can do to make an impact in the community , we want to do it .”
The Foundation is funded 100 % by Christopher Ranch , with a primary focus on kids and education . “ We want to make sure there ’ s not a classroom that doesn ’ t have iPads , laptops or books . We want to make sure clubs and sports come back to life .” Ken said , citing the Foundation ’ s recent $ 50,000 donation to Christopher High ’ s Athletic department to cover all sports league fees , busses , transportation , referees , and other costs .
Another area of strong emphasis for the Foundation is combatting food scarcity . “ We did salad bars for South Valley Junior High — fresh produce for the kids at no cost . We cleared student lunch debt at both Gilroy High School and Christopher High .”
Whatever they can do to fulfill this mission , they will , he said . “ Going forward , we ’ re keeping that focus and making sure we ’ re as visible as possible in the community .”
MAIN IMAGE : Third generation owner Ken Christopher takes a stand in front of Christopher Ranch shipping crates , and stands at the forefront of a community on the way back . ABOVE LEFT : Ken ’ s first book , “ Elephant Garlic ” has been donated to 4,000 local kids . TOP : Ken with grandfather and founder of Christopher Ranch , Don Christopher , during a “ Summer of Garlic ” event . ABOVE : As Executive Vice President of Christopher Ranch , Ken is busy expanding the family business and eagerly continues Christopher family legacy of community philanthropy and support .
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