SALINAS, Ca. (May 1, 2017) – Tonya Antle, principal of Tanimura & Antle, was named 2017’s Ag Woman of the Year by Monterey County’s Ag Against Hunger, on Friday, April 28. Antle was recognized for her considerable contributions to produce, agriculture and the local community.
Born into agriculture, she started working on the family farm at age 10 and, after graduating from college, joined Frieda’s at a time when women in produce were still rare. Antle’s career took her to organic table grapes with Pavich Farms and then on to Earthbound Farm, where she became its most visible organic ambassador in the trade, playing a key role in the company’s impact on the expansion of organic production and sales. She’s one of a handful of true pioneers in bringing organic food and farming from the fringe to the mainstream. She, along with Matt Seeley, recently co-founded the Organic Produce Network, with the goal of sharing their considerable experience in organic produce with other organic growers, packers, and shippers.
A tireless volunteer, she has always been passionate about contributing to a bigger purpose. Once she landed here in Monterey County, she brought the full force of her generosity and infectious enthusiasm to bear in our local community. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the CSUMB Foundation. She has also served on the board of the Community Foundation for Monterey County and as the Women’s Fund Leadership Chair, spearheading the building of the Women’s Fund endowment. She’s an active supporter of too many organizations to list and an active participant in local issues.
The 2016 recipient (along with her husband, Rick) of United Fresh Produce Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, she has served industry in many roles: as a member of the Executive Committee of the US Department of Agriculture’s Advisory Board on Research, Education and Economics; and a member of several boards, including the Produce Marketing Association, Organic Trade Association, and Produce for Better Health Foundation. She was a founding committee member for the Produce Marketing Association’s Women’s Fresh Perspectives Conference, helping to increase opportunities for women following in her wake.
And most important, she is energized by mentoring young people – especially young women. She has had a profound influence on the lives of countless young people both in formal arrangements like the Pack Family/PMA Career Pathways program and the course she has taught at Cal Poly as well as by being an example, a counselor, and a generous servant leader in her professional roles and in how she takes on the world.
“Receiving this honor from Ag Against Hunger was both a thrilling surprise and reaffirming,” said Antle. “My career and life’s work for the organic produce community has never been about me, but rather about delivering on the promise for our farmers, customers and consumers. To be recognized for my efforts makes me proud that I played a small role in making the organic choice viable.”
The Agricultural Woman of the Year award seeks to honor unique leadership qualities held by women working within the agricultural industry in Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. The winner of this prestigious award is someone who demonstrate a significant contribution to local agriculture, is a leader for our community and an advocate for agriculture.
Ag Against Hunger is a non-profit organization, based in Monterey County, that works with growers, packers and shippers to collect surplus produce and distribute it to foodbanks. Annually, the organization distributes more than 12 million pounds of fresh produce to foodbanks.