Califonia Bountiful

California in focus

January/February 2018 California Bountiful magazine

Winning images showcase Golden State's bounty

From twin calves to tree crops, hogs to hay bales, photographers up and down the state have brought California agriculture into sharp focus.

For the 36th year, shutterbugs were asked to show us all the ways California is a farming state like no other for "Focus: California," the 2017 California Farm Bureau Federation Photo Contest.

Did they ever. The family farms and historic ranches seen through their lenses capture the rich diversity—in crops, livestock and geography—that characterizes rural California. For the grownups, there were prizes of as much as $1,000. For those 13 and younger, there's the Budding Artists category, presented by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. And for all winners, there are published photos and the attendant bragging rights.

Congratulations to all.

Grand Prize: Emela Brown McLaren, San Joaquin County

An early-morning cattle roundup at the ranch of Dan and Andrea Erickson near Yosemite drew Emela Brown McLaren's interest; she and a friend were there for a workshop. The ranch, founded by Dan Erickson's great-great-grandfather, once fed the builders of Hetch Hetchy Dam. McLaren said the ranch is still run much the same way it was in the old days. "It's a real honor to live in the San Joaquin Valley with all the farms and the cattle ranches, and the different things going on," she said.

First Place: Andrew Lincoln, Napa County

Andrew Lincoln said he was out one day in the Carneros area, camera at the ready, when this vineyard and the people working on the vines caught his eye. "The undulation of the hillside, in combination with the workers there—it just grabbed my interest. So I pulled off the side of the road, got my telephoto lens out and photographed it."

Second Place: Henry Schulte, Santa Barbara County

This well-known barn stands at the corner of Highway 41 and Avenue 12 in Madera County. "I drive by that barn all the time," said Henry Schulte, who has a cabin in Oakhurst. "I've taken pictures of it many times, but that particular time, the clouds were there, and that just made the big difference. I just think it's a cool barn."

Third Place: Kellie Neufeld, Kern County

Kellie Neufeld's 9-year-old son, Hank, was working with his first 4-H animal, a hog named Hoagie. "We heard they kind of like to swim and flop around in the mud," Neufeld said. So, they set up a tub for Hoagie. "He jumps in the water and rolls around like a kid. All that water went in Hank's mouth, which he thought was disgusting. But I thought it was hilarious."

Honorable Mentions

Amy Blagg, San Joaquin County: "We've been trying to get more photos and capture our history of the old-vine zinfandel," said Amy Blagg, who works for the Lodi District Grape Growers Association. The decrease in acreage of the region's iconic winegrape is her main motivation. While photographing harvest, she noticed Raul Mendoza. "He was driving the tractor with the gondolas that the other individuals were dumping the grapes into," she said.

Andrew Lincoln, Napa County: Andrew Lincoln's father is a vineyard manager. The younger man heard his father's crew was doing erosion-control work and went out to shoot the hay being laid to help keep the soil in place. "One thing I like about the erosion control is that I think there's a myth that agriculture and environmental responsibility are somehow separated, when in fact good farming is responsible land stewardship," Lincoln said.

Holly Schaad, Yolo County: The Schaads have farmed in Dunnigan since 1860. Holly Schaad's daughter, Brynlee, part of the seventh generation of farmers, was helping employee Tyler Wells with new almond trees. "She wanted to know how to tie them, and he was just showing her how, and she wanted to help," Schaad said. Whenever changes are made to fields or orchards, Schaad said she documents that with her children in the photo: "That's just something I love to do."

Andrea Traphagan, Lassen County: Andrea Traphagan caught this scene of her 25-year-old son, Torin, feeding his cattle at sundown after a day's work helping his parents. "He's a brand-new farmer, and he's our first of our next generation that's beginning to follow in our footsteps," Traphagan said. "I love photographing our farm life the most, just because I feel it's really important to show people what we do."

Kellie Neufeld, Kern County: The Neufelds planted their first orchard of Sumo mandarins in Lindsay two years ago; this year, family history was made: "That was the first time we had harvested them, ever," Kellie Neufeld said. "So it was our first pick on the first ranch that we actually own. That was a big day for our family, but it happened to be a pretty day, too."

Thomas Gannon, Merced County: The retired microbiologist, who has long grown almonds on the side, noticed this scene in his Atwater orchard in early May. "What drew me to the photo, of course, is (the fallen blossoms) looking like it snowed," said Thomas Gannon, who's in the Merced Camera Club and takes photos as a hobby. "It just intrigued me because there's 'snow' all over the ground."

Budding Artists

First Place: Nathan Blagg, 8 years old, San Joaquin County

Nathan, son of Honorable Mention winner Amy Blagg, was visiting his grandfather's Nevada County ranch for Christmas. "We went into my grandpa's barn," Nathan said. "He had three pigs. In the photos, there's only one pig. But it jumped up on the fence, and I took the picture." Nathan became interested in photography a couple of years ago. "I like taking pictures with my mom's camera," he said.

Second Place: Holyn Sylvester, 11 years old, San Luis Obispo County

A family friend has some of the Sylvesters' animals at his place. "We went to go see our animals, and he was telling us that one of his cows had twins," said Holyn's mom, Wendy Sylvester. "We wanted to go check them out." When Holyn showed up with her camera, one of the calves peered at Holyn from underneath its mother, "and she just caught it perfectly."

Kevin Hecteman

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