(Editor’s note: Turlock Mayor and almond farmer Gary Soiseth, 32, was interviewed by New York Magazine.)
I am in Turlock California, which is a town of about 72,000 people in the middle of the Central Valley. It is a great agricultural town. My jobs — plural — all revolve around that. First, I am a farmer, third-generation, and I grow 50 acres of almonds. I also work for the Modesto irrigation district, on energy and water policy. We’re a public utility that handles both irrigation and water, and there’s a lot of renewable-energy standards and different standards we have to meet and discuss. But also I was elected to be the mayor of my town. It’s a quasi-part-time gig, you could say. You’re supposed to have another job, but it is actually more full time than any of my other jobs and I make no money from it. I’ve given my stipend to a scholarship fund. I have an office in city hall; I go in there after the meeting and at that time not a lot of people interrupt me. I will just sit at the desk and it all feels very real: that I’m here in charge of the city, that I’m also working on water and energy policy that affects hundreds of thousands of people. I’m sitting there and I’m looking at a jar full of almonds on my desk, which is what I grow. So it comes full circle. It’s that quietness after all the adrenaline from the council meeting, which physically makes me feel different. And then, when I’m looking at that cherry-wood desk that so many other mayors have sat at, and I look at the almonds, I just feel very at peace. It all comes together. Right then.
About the Almond Board
Almonds from California are a natural, wholesome and quality food. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,000 almond growers and processors in California, many of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit Almonds.com or check out California Almonds on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and the California Almonds blog.