Seasons of life
January/February 2024 California Bountiful magazine
Winning photos showcase the variety of agricultural lifestyles in California
Story by Caitlin Fillmore
From sleepless nights during the ground-shaking almond harvest to long days cultivating thousands of acres, the winning images from the 42nd annual California Farm Bureau Photo Contest depict the real daily lives of people within our state’s diverse agricultural sector. Two of the photos were captured within days of each other—one showing a dairy cow standing in fresh snow and the other a bundle of just-harvested flowers against a lush, mountainous landscape.
The variety of California farming and ranching lifestyles came through in these stunning photographs, submitted by talented Farm Bureau members. Cash prizes were given to the adult winners as well as the Budding Artists under age 14, in a category sponsored by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. All winning photos are also featured in a calendar.
Merced County Farm Bureau
Cayden Pricolo, a plant and soil sciences major at Oklahoma State University, has an insider’s perspective on growing specialty crops after an internship at Bowles Farming Co. in Los Banos and riding alongside her agronomist dad. While this knowledge can be helpful in the classroom, she finds her photography can say even more. Pricolo’s winning photo captures the hands-on harvesting technique for watermelons in Los Banos. “Especially in the ag industry, photography is a good way to advocate and show the rest of the world how the ag industry is done,” Pricolo says. “Without these people doing this manual labor, we wouldn’t be able to have successful farming to provide food for the world.” Pricolo used a high shutter speed and natural backlighting to perfectly capture the airborne fruit.
Ismael (Mel) Resendiz
San Diego County Farm Bureau
Mel Resendiz can’t possibly choose from among the more than 300 varieties of protea flowers curated over 30 years at Resendiz Brothers farm in Fallbrook. “I keep every one. When people ask me what’s my favorite, I say, ‘All of them,’” Resendiz says. But he will admit he was particularly inspired to capture the first harvest of the Lady Di protea, one of the newest on his 250-acre flower farm in the Pauma Valley. Protea flowers are some of the oldest flowers on Earth and grow on steep hillsides. As one of the workers scaled the hill with fresh Lady Di blooms on his shoulder and the Palomar Mountain in the background, Resendiz had to pull out his iPhone.
Sacramento County Farm Bureau
“This is a cow I usually use for work,” begins Mishael McDougal, a classroom educator with the Dairy Council of California. This photogenic, 4-year-old Jersey, whom McDougal calls Valentine, joins McDougal for nutrition education classes at local elementary schools. Valentine lives at Rachelle’s Jerseys in Visalia, a fourth-generation, 2,000-head Jersey-exclusive dairy. “She’s pretty laid-back. It didn’t take too many tries to capture (this image).” McDougal wanted to capture Valentine’s unique markings (a perfect heart shape right on her forehead) and maybe a new way to view dairies. “I think it’s an inspiring but also relaxing depiction of dairy farm life.”
Glenn County Farm Bureau
Timothy Danley is a fifth-generation farmer who embraces technology to help him tell stories about modern farm life, including this drone shot of Danley’s father working lime into the soil. “Farmers tend to be secluded homebodies. (Photography) makes it easier to explain what we do and exactly what goes into it,” Danley says. This minimalistic shot reminds Danley of water confluence, where two bodies of water mix and combine colors, and clearly depicts agricultural advances over time. “My grandfather used horse-drawn harvesters for rice. Now we can cover hundreds of acres a day. I want people to look and realize one person can get so much done.”
Solano County Farm Bureau
Mariah Earl’s notable photo depicts the next generation of family farmers, learning the ins and outs of agricultural life. Earl’s family moved to a 5-acre parcel about 20 years ago, cultivating a large garden and adding chickens and sheep five years ago. “We have been trying to learn more about being self-sufficient and teaching my kids that you can grow your own food,” Earl says. Another fun farm lesson? Helping Grandpa drive the tractor in the front yard, of which Earl snagged a candid photo in portrait mode on her iPhone 13 Pro.
Nevada County Farm Bureau
This “goat stampede” was captured on a cool, cloudy day in Rough and Ready. “That’s a real place,” confirms Jocelyn Brown, owner of Restoration Land and Livestock, a prescriptive grazing company. Brown’s herd of 40 Boer, Savanna and Kiko goats is hired to graze on properties, helping reduce fire fuel load and chewing troublesome vines. While these goats “eat for a living” instead of providing meat or milk for cheese or soaps, Brown works to spread awareness of this other job for goats. “I want people to see goats as useful workers. They have something to contribute.”
Fresno County Farm Bureau
Ashley Carreiro grew up around sheep, watching shearing in the spring and feeding baby lambs in the fall. “Now, I’m taking my two daughters to do the same thing,” she says. But for Carreiro’s winning photo, a different type of fluffy substance caught her eye. With her ISO on its lowest setting, Carreiro focused on these emerging buds of cotton on a friend’s farm in Riverdale during a scenic sunset. In addition to gracing the 2024 California Farm Bureau calendar as a winner, these photos also appear as artwork in the farm insurance agency where Carreiro works.
Fresno County Farm Bureau
As Stan Grosz prepared to retire to his 20-acre raisin and cherry operation outside of Fresno, he dreamed of quiet mornings like this one: “feel-good time,” as he calls it. Grosz’s raisins are seen during harvest with his neighbor’s almond trees beyond, as the harvest moon sets in the background. “In this area, raisins and almonds are it, man,” Grosz says. “I wanted to show them both and represent what our area is like.” While a peaceful scene, Grosz captured it only one day before the photo contest deadline.
Stanislaus County Farm Bureau
Larry Speed carefully set up his tripod to capture this shot of a nighttime harvest of almonds, using a long exposure and careful timing to capture the shaking of the trees. But he didn’t have to set any alarm to get this photo—he was already awake. “When they’re shaking the trees, well, it shakes our house,” says Speed, who lives on part of a 400-acre almond farm called Superior Fruit Ranch. Speed makes the best of the shaking season, using photography to share the “round-the-clock, necessary things that farmers do to get done what needs to get done.”
Mary Ann Renner
Humboldt County Farm Bureau
It’s not every day that snow blankets the notoriously green landscapes in Ferndale, where Mary Ann Renner and her husband have operated a 350-head organic dairy farm for 42 years. A blanket of fresh snow last January inspired Renner to pick up her Canon camera and telephoto lens. While the image of the rustic wood barn and posing cow looks like a postcard, Renner hopes her photos provide a real view into country life. “It’s not just a photo shoot. Every day our cows are out on pasture. This is how we raise our animals. It’s a great way of life.”
Ashley Jansen, age 12
Colusa County Farm Bureau
Ashley Jansen knows the extensive history of her family farm, first acquired via a land grant 150 years ago. She shares that the land is now primarily used to grow almonds instead of the sugar beets of yesteryear. These almond orchards surround Ashley’s house, bursting with blooms and perfect for a scenic walk with Sydney, Ashley’s dog. While strolling the orchards with Sydney, Ashley stopped to focus on the delicate white blooms when a helpful pollinating bee entered her shot. While a gifted photographer, Ashley gives credit to Sydney who “led me to the perfect photo opportunity!”
Natalie Webb, age 10
Sonoma County Farm Bureau
Super fans of this photo contest will recognize this budding photographer, earning accolades for her artwork for the fourth straight year. Natalie, who lives in St. Helena in Napa County, focused on the vibrantly green “baby grapes” in the vineyard behind her house she passes every day on the way to school. It took time to find the most photogenic bunch, says Natalie, who hunted throughout the vineyard before finding this shot. Natalie stays in the moment while shooting photos, relying on spontaneity and her mom’s iPhone. However, Natalie shares she hopes to get her own iPhone someday.