(UPDATED COVERAGE, June 14) SOLEDAD, Calif. — Mari Rossi, co-owner of Hollister-based apricot grower-shipper B & R Farms LLC, has been named Ag Woman of the Year by Ag Against Hunger. More than 260 people from agriculture and related industries in three California counties came out for the nonprofit’s 19th annual fundraising and award luncheon June 8 at Paraiso Vineyards in Soledad. Auctions also took place, part of Ag Against Hunger’s biggest fundraiser of the year. The event raised $42,630, executive director Karen DeWitt said. The award honors contributions to the industry and community causes in San Benito, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. “Mari has been instrumental in taking what was a small family business and turning it into a profitable but still family owned large operation,” Abby Taylor-Silva, last year’s award recipient and vice president for policy and communications at Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California, said as she introduced her successor. Rossi manages product development and sales for B & R Farms, a family business begun in 1929. It grows, packs, processes and sells Blenheim apricots. Some fruit is sold fresh, but the bulk of the business is in dried apricots, preserves, toppings and related products. “I come from a long heritage of agriculture,” Rossi said. “It’s touched every part of my life. I’ll do my best to fill the shoes that have gone before me.” Rossi was also recognized for her service to a variety of community organizations, among them Ag in the Classroom, the San Benito County Farm Bureau and the Salinas chapter of California Women for Agriculture. She often represents the B & R Farms stations at the Hollister and Aptos farmers markets, and has provided farm tours to the public through the Farm Bureau and Worldwide Country Tours.
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