Alex Chinchiolo, Young Grower from Ripon, California
TJ Mullinax // November 1, 2014
age / 28 crops / Apples, cherries title / Partner, farm manager business / River Bend Orchards education / Degree in fruit science, California Polytechnic State University
Q: What was your path to farming? I think it was from all the days riding in the truck with my dad in the morning to check on the picking crews or the pruning crews. From that, I developed a passion for farming and producing produce.
Q: What was your goal in joining the family farm? I’d say our objective is to grow the best apples that we can.
Q: What problems are you working on? I’ve always been a big proponent of anything that we can do to lessen our dependency on labor. Different forms of mechanization, or advances in technology that move us away from that dependency is something I find exciting.
Q: What projects are you excited about? We’ve been working with V-trellis systems and putting them into new plantings. The uniformity allows us to use different equipment applications. For pruning, we may be able to get away from guys having to go up and down a ladder. The V-trellis system is pretty cool.
Q: How do you want to set your business apart from other Central Valley farms? Most of our acreage is produced on a commercial basis. But lately we’ve been looking into farmers’ markets. We’re now up to 10 markets a week. I’m excited about that because people are eager to find out where the fruit is from, why is it here, and that excitement is something we can grow on in the future. Also, it keeps us less dependent on third party vendors, like packer-shippers.
TJ Mullinax joined Good Fruit Grower as digital producer and photojournalist in 2013. He photographs and edits visual stories for the print magazine and online publishing spaces. Along with editorial production, TJ develops and maintains the magazine’s digital products. -- Follow the author: Phone: (509) 853-3519 -- Email