Largest U.S. Stone Fruit Grower Preserves Farmland

Creating a landmark legacy, Gerawan Farming has forever protected over 9,200 acres — more than 14 square miles — of fertile farmland in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Family owned and operated since 1938, Gerawan Farming is the nation’s largest grower of peaches, plums, and nectarines, and among the leaders in table grapes. It packs under the Prima label.

The Gerawan Family, farmers for nearly three-quarters of a century, has voluntarily placed the actively farmed land into a permanent agricultural conservation easement. The easement will be administered by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a non-profit, public-benefit land trust located in Lincoln, CA, and accredited by the Land Trust Alliance.

“Completing an agricultural conservation easement of this magnitude for actively farmed high-quality ag land, as opposed to grazing lands, is monumental,” stated Patrick J. Shea, executive director of the Wildlife Heritage Foundation. “Our organization was very fortunate to be selected to be part of this historic easement as this is the largest known agricultural easement of its kind in the state. Agricultural easements, such as this one, are very important to an overall conservation program. Furthermore, an easement of this size will make a historic difference for the agricultural landscape of the area known as the nation’s food basket.”

The California Department of Conservation defines an agricultural conservation easement as “a voluntary, legally recorded deed restriction that is placed on a specific property used for agricultural production.” Traditionally, landowners place agricultural conservation easements on their property to ensure that agricultural lands remain in active production. This removes development pressures from the land and prohibits practices that could damage or interfere with the agricultural use of the land. The easement, a restriction on the deed of the property, remains in effect even when the land changes ownership.

Of the more than 9,200 acres selected and placed into the conservation easement by the Gerawan Family, approximately 7,000 acres are located on the Gerawan’s “West Side” ranches, located west of Fresno and south of the town of Kerman. The remaining 2,200-plus acres, known as the Family’s “River Bottom” ranches, are located east of Sanger and north of Reedley. These ranches are along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and adjacent to the Sierra Gateway Scenic Highway 180. Many of the “River Bottom” ranches are contiguous to the renowned Fresno County Blossom Trail which is enjoyed each spring by visitors from throughout the nation.

Throughout its nearly 75-year history, Gerawan Farming has stayed true to its “family farm” roots and has remained passionate about quality and commitment to excellence. Ray Gerawan has continued the farming tradition started by his parents. Ray’s sons, Mike and Dan, grew up working on the farm and now all three proudly operate this successful family business.

“Farming has always tied our family and community together,” said Ray Gerawan. “Since the early years, when we planted our first trees in the river bottom area, my sons Dan and Mike and I, along with our dedicated employees, have all worked hard to ensure that Gerawan Farming is a name we’re proud of. This conservation easement promises that the traditions we started many years ago continues for generations to come.”

Ryan Jacobsen, executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, emphasized the significance of this easement and stated, “Our organization has traditionally worked closely with Gerawan Farming. As a family business, the Gerawans have brought forward innovative agricultural practices and effective advancements to our valley. This unprecedented agricultural conservation easement will help ensure that our world-class ag lands will remain protected from development. We are thankful to the Gerawan Family for helping to promote and protect agriculture in our San Joaquin Valley.”

Manuel Cunha, president of the Nisei Farmers League, agreed and added, “To protect farming on both the east and west sides of our valley ensures that the integrity of our world class agricultural production will be maintained, now and into the future. This historic easement demonstrates a clear appreciation for agriculture and conservation.”

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Largest U.S. Stone Fruit Grower Preserves Farmland

  1. 521931 A very comendable move by this family. May we expect a detailed article in the future on what benefits from a tax viewpoint the family may have obtained in conjunction with this easement? This major contribution should be recognized widely and like efforts encouraged. I firmly believe that tax incentives should be provided to donors of land for public benefit instead of using tax dollars administered by government employees for repurchase of lands for park and other easements.

  2. Wonderful. I also have an ag easement on my 80 acres of almonds in Merced County. We must continue to find tools we can use to save our farmland. Without land and water we will not longer have farms and farmers. Where will our food come from?

Stone Fruit Stories
a trio of peaches
Stone Fruit
July 10, 2016
American Farm Bureau Video Highlights Labor Struggle During Peach Harvest
Growers say administrative delays have caused workers to arrive days or weeks late. Read More
(Photo credit: Nancy Bosold, Horticulture Educator, Penn State Extension)
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In Pennsylvania
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Photo credit: Wikimedia commons
Stone Fruit
June 30, 2016
Large Tart Cherry Crop Expected In Michigan
Nikki Rothwell, Center Coordinator for the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center in Traverse City, MI, tells UpNorthLive.com, the tart cherry crop Read More
Freeze protected peach trees in Florida
Stone Fruit
June 10, 2016
Managing Peach Blocks When You Have No Crop
Many peach orchards in the Northeast were stung by a bitter cold. Read More
Cherry Harvest
Stone Fruit
June 6, 2016
Northwest Cherry Crop Estimates Down This Year
‘Bing’ growers experiencing low crop set. Read More
Bagging the fruit might be the only way to ensure growing quality organic peaches in South Carolina. (Photo credit: Juan Carlos Melgar, Clemson University)
Organic
June 1, 2016
Organic Peach-Bagging Project Shows Great Promise
Clemson University research may allow growers in the Southeast to prevent diseases related to heat and humidity. Read More
First-year impact of Prunus replant disease at the Firebaugh replant trial; stunted trees in the foreground row were planted in plot of non-fumigated replant soil. (Photo credit: University of California Agriculture)
Disease Control
June 1, 2016
Fumigation, Proper Rootstocks Key To Controlling Replant Disease
Much remains mysterious about Prunus Replant Disease (PRD) and exactly how it operates to suppress growth of young replanted almond Read More
The Latest
Pest Control
August 21, 2016
Spotted Wing Drosophila: For Michigan, …
Why the pest can be so much more destructive for Eastern cherry growers might be due to what they’re not farming. Read More
Stone Fruit
August 3, 2016
Loans Available For Stone Fruit Growers …
Western Massachusetts growers who experienced tree loss or damage may be eligible for farm loans. Read More
Stone Fruit
July 26, 2016
Take A Closer Look At The Tall Spindle A…
One of the more traditional three-dimensional canopies, Tall Spindle Axe data shows consistent early and sustained yields. Read More
Stone Fruit
July 10, 2016
American Farm Bureau Video Highlights La…
Growers say administrative delays have caused workers to arrive days or weeks late. Read More
Apples & Pears
July 8, 2016
Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine Expands In…
More townships added as small populations of the pest are found in municipalities adjacent to previously quarantined areas. Read More
Stone Fruit
June 30, 2016
Large Tart Cherry Crop Expected In Michi…
Nikki Rothwell, Center Coordinator for the Northwest Michigan Horticulture Research Center in Traverse City, MI, tells UpNorthLive.com, the tart cherry crop Read More
Stone Fruit
June 10, 2016
Managing Peach Blocks When You Have No C…
Many peach orchards in the Northeast were stung by a bitter cold. Read More
Stone Fruit
June 6, 2016
Northwest Cherry Crop Estimates Down Thi…
‘Bing’ growers experiencing low crop set. Read More
Organic
June 1, 2016
Organic Peach-Bagging Project Shows Grea…
Clemson University research may allow growers in the Southeast to prevent diseases related to heat and humidity. Read More
Disease Control
June 1, 2016
Fumigation, Proper Rootstocks Key To Con…
Much remains mysterious about Prunus Replant Disease (PRD) and exactly how it operates to suppress growth of young replanted almond Read More
Fruits
May 26, 2016
Consider Fumigating For Nematodes Before…
Stone fruit and almond growers looking to replant orchards might want to invest in soil samples to assess nematode populations Read More
Stone Fruit
May 25, 2016
Researchers Study Why Cherry Cracking Af…
German researchers studied how water uptake and fruit skin determined a cultivar’s susceptibility to cherry cracking. Read More
Stone Fruit
May 9, 2016
Northwest Cherries Predict Strong Crop
Preliminary figures indicate a crop larger than 2015, and potential early harvest. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
No Peach Crop Likely This Year In Severa…
The sudden, hard freeze that followed the warm winter means Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut growers are seeing near total losses. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 26, 2016
How To Avoid Pitfalls In Peach Tree Trai…
Decisions made about training early in the orchard can impact your tree’s survival and ultimate decline. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 13, 2016
Fleshing Out The State Of The Florida Pe…
Growers are fine-tuning production of fledgling crop. Read More
Stone Fruit
April 12, 2016
Biotechnology Company Partners With Grow…
Phytelligence collaborates with Washington’s Tip Top Orchards to create novel, high value, sweet cherry varieties. Read More
Stone Fruit
March 30, 2016
Florida, South Carolina Peach Growers Te…
Partnership will provide supplies from April through September. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]