gmhTODAY Fall 2021 October-December 2021 - Page 57

Third generation owner / partner Gary Tognetti operates 400 acres year round , producing 36 million pounds of peppers and 86 million pounds of tomatoes . You can find their produce at one of four fruit stands ; Hwy 101 NB just south of town , Leavesley Rd . E . just east of the Outlets , Hwy 152 E . and W . just south east of the Ferguson Rd . Y , and on Hwy 25 just north of Hollister .
In the case of aquifers running dry and not being replenished by rains , he said they ’ d have to get water from a neighboring parcel . “ Almost all the parcels have their own well , but you ’ ve got to hope . If something happens to this well , this crop is done ,” he said . “ And if we don ’ t get any rain this year , it ’ s going to be a big problem .”
He wonders just how long farming in California will be able to survive .
Additionally , labor laws have cracked down on the amount of overtime hours that irrigators and laborers can work , meaning the cost of hiring these employees to do the same amount of work as always has gone up . “ Everything ’ s getting too expensive . We ’ ve got to keep getting more every year for our crops . It all eventually ends up on you , the end consumer .”
Though the future is uncertain , Tognetti stays in the moment and enjoys the work he has done for much of his life . As though to give him a nod of encouragement , Tognetti recently received an unexpected sign from the farm ’ s founder , his grandfather , Edwin Tognetti . A friend of his working off Hecker Pass in Watsonville found the name “ E . Tognetti ” written in cement upon an abandoned hunting cabin . These cabins were built in the 1930s , when Gary ’ s grandfather would have been about 17 .
He imagines that his grandfather may have helped to build the cabin , but it ’ s a question that remains unanswered . “ It was just 100 percent coincidence that my friend found it ,” he said .
Or maybe not .
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