SALINAS, Calif. — After months on the road, Bob Gray has found a home.
A home, that is, for the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, which moved April 15 from its former headquarters in Sacramento to an 1880s Victorian house built squarely in the center of Salinas’s most productive ground, with neat rows of iceberg lettuce and cauliflower as neighbors.
Gray, who served previously as chief executive officer of Duda Farm Fresh Foods Inc. before taking the president and chief executive officer position at the foundation, said he first looked at the house, called the Bardin House after its original owners, last summer after being approached by local grower Chris Bunn, whose family trust had owned the property since the 1970s.
“This allows Ag Leadership to be based in a farming district,” Gray said of the move.
The foundation’s small staff is almost fully moved into the home, which still has its original Victorian-era lighting, door hinges and 12-foot ceilings.
Though boxes still fill much of the office space, Gray said about four to five people will work in the new office incoming months.
An official grand opening could happen as early as June, once landscaping is complete and the parking lot is finished, Gray said.
The California Agricultural Leadership Foundation has been based all over California since its beginnings in the 1970s, moving to the home area of the chief executive officer, Gray said, which in his case was Salinas.
Moving to the heart of Salinas’ fertile Blanco growing area also carries some symbolism of bringing the program back to one of the state’s most well-known growing districts. It also shows alumni and supporters the foundation is rooted in agriculture and remains dedicated to promoting leadership throughout the industry, Gray said.
The move is also a way for the foundation to raise its profile, Gray said, by locating near the resorts of Monterey as a way to increase recruiting and set up meetings in a popular destination spot.
The foundation’s mission is to enhance the long-term viability of California agriculture through leadership development, and pays for two years of classes for leadership participants at four universities: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo; California State Polytechnic University, Pomona; California State University-Fresno; and University of California-Davis, worth about $45,000, Gray said.
Classes 39 and 40 are in progress, Gray said, with applications still available for the upcoming class 41.
Applications will be accepted until May 14 and information is available at www.agleaders.org.