Meet Our Growers
In 1917, Walter L. Richardson walked 200 miles through Central California from Pasadena to Porterville to start a new life for his family. There, he founded Tenalu Ranch, a multi-acre farm located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California’s fertile Central Valley.
Today, his great-granddaughter Julia Inestroza and her husband Jorge run the farm harvesting 50 acres of Manzanillo and Sevillano olives ready to be packed and shipped to stores across the country and around the world.
Whether Jorge is whipping up his famous Pasta Puttanesca or Julia is making a delicious snack for their daughter, they are filled with pride every time they open a can of California Ripe Olives knowing the love and care that went into growing and harvesting each olive.
Although they didn’t start growing their own olives until 2001, Ed Curiel and his family have a long history in California ripe olive farming.
Ed’s father, Jose, emigrated from Mexico in the early 1960s to work in California orchards, picking olives, peaches and other crops. “Old Blue,” the family’s trusted truck served as not only their transportation, but also their home, as they migrated from Mexico to California throughout the years. In 1980s, the Curiel family made Corning, California their permanent residence, and two decades later, purchased the very olive orchard they used to hand pick.
Today, the Curiel family extends beyond Ed’s immediate family, it also includes the same harvest crew they have worked with for more than 15 years, and of course, “Old Blue.”
Juan Nerey’s father brought his family to the United States several decades ago to work as a laborer in the olive groves of Northern California. With hard work and financial assistance from family members, Juan was able to buy his first grove and harvest his own California olives. Over the years, the Nerey family has expanded their operation with Juan’s son, Pablo, managing the family’s olive growing operation alongside his brothers, Juan Carlos and Oscar.
Today, Pablo is raising the Nerey’s fourth-generation of California olive growers, teaching his son, Pablo Jr., what his father has taught him about farming and sharing his love for California Ripe Olives.
Dennis and Mary Jo Burreson started growing California Ripe Olives in the northern part of the state over 35 years ago. Their three sons, Shane, Heath and Seth all grew up in the groves, handling irrigation duties and learning the ropes from their dad.
Today, each son has his own California Ripe Olive grove, contributing to the growing of California Ripe Olives with their dad and making innovative strides by being some of the first ripe olive growers to plant groves set up for mechanical harvesting.
The same hard work and dedication started by Dennis and Mary Jo many years ago is passed on to their grandchildren, setting the stage for a new generation of California olive growers.
In 1922, Vito DeLeonardis and Natalie Jameson’s grandfather came to the United States from Italy to pursue his dream of farming. He started in the California Ripe Olive business grafting and budding trees in a nursery before purchasing his own land to grow and harvest olives in California’s Central Valley. Today, Vito and his brother-in-law Johnny manage the family olive nursery nestled in the fertile central valley alongside their many acres of olive groves.
The growing of olives continues to be a family affair with Grandma Mary not far from the everyday operations and Vito and Natalie’s children learning the unique and careful process of growing California Ripe Olives and appreciating the benefits of a family farming lifestyle.
The Erickson family represents five generations of olive growers in the Central Valley of California. They started farming in Easton, just south of Fresno, in 1879 and 30 years later, bought the ranch where their first olive grove still stands today. Jim Erickson and his sons, Lee and Jason, continue the tradition of family farming started decades ago by meeting each and every morning to start their work on the farm.
For the Erickson’s, they believe that there is something truly special in being able to walk the same groves as the many generations before them. A sixth generation of California olive growers are waiting in the wings, but in the meantime, they’ll happily enjoy their California Ripe Olives right out of the can.