How We Grow

2019 March/April How We Grow

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12 ALMOND COMMUNITY John Thoming Grower Ed Thoming and Sons Inc. Almond Achievement Winner Loves Every Day on the Job After spending 59 years as a California almond grower, John Thoming has earned the right to call it like he sees it on a variety of topics. For instance, John doesn't sugar- coat the industry's regulatory challenges: "We've got some people in government who've never seen a farm." At the same time, he does not hide his optimism for the future of California almonds: "There's a way to go before demand reaches market saturation." Thoming's pull-no-punches approach has earned him a reputation as "the watchdog for the good of the grower," according to Ben Goudie, member development manager for Blue Diamond Growers. That character, backed by decades of industry leadership and service, propelled Thoming to win the 2018 Almond Achievement Award at the Almond Board of California's (ABC's) annual Almond Conference last December. Thoming is the eighth recipient of the award, which is presented to an industry member whose long-term service, innovations and overall contributions have added value to the California almond community. "There was a consensus at Blue Diamond of how much John, as a dedicated co-op member, has contributed to the Almond Board and the industry at large," said Goudie, who nominated Thoming for the award. "He deserved to be recognized." "Winning the award is one of the highlights of my career," Thoming said. From family farm to industry leadership A California native, Thoming began his agricultural career in 1960 when he joined his father Ed and brother Jim at the family farm — Ed Thoming and Sons Inc. — near Tracy. Today, the operation manages 1,500 acres of almonds, with some apricots and walnuts, and Thoming, at age 77, remains part of his farm's management team. With the help of eight full-time employees, the Thomings grow and harvest an almond crop that today makes its way to Westside Hulling, near Westley. From there, the crop enters the marketing channels of Blue Diamond, where Thoming has been a member since 1960. A decade after he began farming, Thoming found himself deeply involved in ABC leadership positions. Over 22 years, he served on the organization's Board of Directors, including three years as vice chair. He was also, at various times, a member of the following committees: administration and finance, production research, reserve, quality control, public relations and advertising, and marketing order review. "John's biggest footprint was on the finance committee, where he helped oversee the Almond Board's budget," said Mel Machado, ABC Board member and Blue Diamond's director of member relations. "He was tenacious in making sure producers were getting value from their assessment and that their money was spent appropriately." Thoming believes his inside role helped him see the Almond Board in a unique way. "People can be critical looking in from the outside, but once you're inside you can see what the Almond Board's accomplishments have been, especially in helping grow the export market," Thoming said. Thoming is especially proud of his insistence that the Almond Board create "a financial surplus for a rainy day, so we would never have to shut down the programs we've worked so hard for." "He's a very sharp businessman," Machado said. "The leadership displayed by John and many others has served California's almond growers well and will continue to do so well into the future." Changing with the times While Thoming spent years gaining industry leadership experience, he also witnessed massive change in the

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