60th Annual Ripon Almond Blossom Festival

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60th Annual Ripon

Feb. 27, 28 & 29 2022

Almond Blossom Festival

VALLEY OAK DENTAL GROUP Serving the community since 1979 General Dentistry Dr. Bonnie Morehead Dr. Ron Joseph Dr. Rudy Ciccarelli Dr. Elizabeth Grecco

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 24, 2022



FUN RUN 8:30 a.m. (1 mile), 9 a.m. (8k) Mavis Stouffer Park

BAKE OFF 7 to 10 a.m., Ripon Community Center



4:30 to 7 p.m., Ripon Community Center, large side

Sale 9 a.m. to noon, lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.



10 a.m. Ripon High North Gym

7 p.m., Ripon Community Center, small side


F R I D AY, F E B. 2 5

10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park



Noon to 10 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park

3 to 8 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park



Noon to 8 p.m. Mistlin Sports Park

4 to 10 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park


1 p.m. downtown Ripon starting at Stockton Avenue

5 to 8 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park

QUARTERBACK CLUB BRATS & DRINKS 1 to 7 p.m., Ripon Community Center

QUARTERBACK CLUB GOLF TOURNAMENT La Contenta Golf Club, Valley Springs


S AT U R D AY, F E B. 2 6

FESTIVAL VENDOR BOOTHS OPEN 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park

RIPON GRANGE PANCAKE BREAKFAST 6 to 10 a.m., Ripon Grange Hall

ALMOND BLOSSOM CARNIVAL OPENS Noon to 5 p.m., Mistlin Sports Park



7 a.m. to noon, American Legion Hall

Noon to 5 p.m. Mistlin Sports Park

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 24, 2022


‘2.3 CANS A WEEK’ IS ALL I EAT Taking Blue Diamond’s pitch to (a healthy) heart & then a lot more: Almonds are what they are cracked up to be


ou may drive by two almond trees in bloom and think to yourself “how lovely”. I jog by two almond trees and I think I’m looking at a year’s supply of nuts. I do not snack on almonds. I inhale them as I use them as a staple of my diet like some people use bread. In a typical year I consume right around 120 pounds of almonds by myself. To put this in perspective under the former Blue Diamond pitch of “a can DENNIS a week is all we ask”, I WYATT go through the equivalent Editor of 2.3 cans a week or 18 ounces of almonds. I prefer to buy my almonds when I can two 50-pound retail boxes at a time from local almond growers. It may be just me, but locally grown almonds seem to taste better than buying them in three-pound bags from Costco or — if I’m running low — the large Blue Diamond 16 ounce pouches of almonds you can buy at the store. I also like to think they help me fend off allergies much like consuming local honey made from bees pollinating 104,000 plus acres of almonds around Manteca, Ripon, and Escalon. I didn’t always like almonds. In fact until I was in my late 20s almonds were a “yuck” item on the same level as Brazilian nuts. Planters tried mightily in my youth to get me hooked on almonds via their mixed nuts cans. But I would cherry pick my favorites at the time — cashews, then peanuts, and then, if I was desperate, walnuts. All the other nuts, including almonds, were worthless to me. So what happened? The California Almond Board got smart. They started to “ruin” the natural taste of almonds while cutting into its natural wholesome dietary values by BBQ smoking them, honey roasting them and such that also involved adding salt. The day I discovered just how good almonds in their natural state are was after I had dropped 130 pounds around my 30th birthday and I was trying to piece together a plan to stop gaining weight. I dropped most anything with added salt for a while including my favorite convenience store food at the time — a small snack bag of honey roasted Blue Diamond almonds. It was around that time I bought my first bag of unadulterated almonds. As the years passed, the less processed food I ate the better raw veggies, fruits, and nuts tasted. It wasn’t until 12 years ago that I wanted to drop from the 190 to 215 pounds range I’d been at since my big plunge after tipping the scales at 320 pounds that I stepped up my consumption of plain almonds.


Manteca almond grower sweeps up his almond crop.

almonds in San Joaquin County that proMy goal was to weigh what I did in the duced 182,600 tons. Walnuts accounted for sixth grade — 165 pounds without reducing 75,100 acres that produced 156,000 tons. my calorie intact that hovers around 4,000 Given that almonds have more than 150 perplus a day or stepping up my exercise. I cent more value per ton value they are still greatly reduced processed food consumption ahead of walnuts in San Joaquin County. further and replaced it with enough yogurt Of the $2.35 billion in crop product in the and cottage cheese to practically have a cow county during 2020, almonds were No. 1 at dedicated to meeting my needs as well as $694 million, milk No. 2 at $439.8 million, consuming assorted veggies and fruit. At the grapes No. 3 at $340.94 million, walnuts No. same time my almond consumption rocketed 4 at $221.9 million, and cherries No. 5 at to 120 to 130 pounds a year — the equiva$188.5 million. lent of the annual almond production of two Stanislaus County farm products came mature trees at the height of their yield years in at $3.59 billion in 2020 with almonds at — and has stayed there. $1.1 billion with 237,900 tons gleaned from That said I go to admit I’m starting to hear 217,646 acres. The No. 2 crop was milk at the siren signs of walnuts. $736 million, chickens were No. 3 at $342 Walnuts were a childhood staple given million, cattle and calves were No. 4 at my mom would buy boxes of them from a $201.7 million and nursery/fruit & nut trees grower near Yuba River north of Marysville. & vines were No. 5 at $163 million. English My job was to crack the walnuts so we could walnuts were less than half of the San Joaeat them as snack food, use them in cooking, quin County production at $103.4 million and fill zip lock bags with them as holiday with 37,916 tons from 37,044 acres to come gifts. No matter how much I gorged on them, in at No. 6 for Stanislaus County. my walnut consumption never came close to Given Ripon celebrates almonds maybe how I inhale almonds today. some community should give walnuts their So what brings walnuts back onto my due. radar? If Stanislaus County were a state, it would In recent years I’ve noticed pasture — and rank 28th in agriculture production behind even some almond orchards — being planted Oregon and ahead of New York. San Joaquin in walnuts throughout South San Joaquin County would be ranked 32nd behind New County. Mexico and ahead of Tennessee. Almonds have been consistently San JoaAlmonds versus walnuts quin County’s first, second or third largest According to a myriad of studies almonds crop and the top agricultural commodity in are the best when it comes to helping you Stanislaus County. lose weight. Almonds are still king by far in Stanislaus Medical research for years has consistently County but in San Joaquin County walnuts have shown those who consume nuts as a are closing the gap. cornerstone of their diet tend to be leaner. By In 2020 there 3.5” were x104,400 acres of research started a move2.5” | Maximum Font 1990 Size:that 30medical pt

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• Sunday, March 6th Lesson @ 9:30am “Recipe For Revival” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

ment toward nuts as solid food for weight loss. That’s because nut eaters were leaner. It wasn’t until the 1990s that nuts started to catch on as a way to help lose weight by way of the protein and fiber that fills you up. The body has a hard time using all of the calories in a nut. Evidence leans towards nuts ramping up your metabolism allowing you to burn more calories even at rest. Experts say almonds have an edge over walnuts for weight loss. Walnuts tend to look like a brain so it comes as no surprise experts say it is better brain food than almonds. Actually it has to do with walnuts’ high omega 3 content even though almonds and hazelnuts have been shown to improve brain function by as much as 60 percent after seven years. Nuts in general help the brain by not as much as almonds and hazelnuts and certainly not as much as walnuts. Nuts are superfoods and walnuts and almonds are the top nuts. When it comes to fiber almonds has twice the amount per ounce as walnuts. Almonds also have a third more protein than walnuts. Almonds also top walnuts in electrolytes. Almonds also come out on top in a fourth category — Vitamin E. Walnuts do win on one nutritional category which is Omega 3. Experts rate walnuts and almonds as a tie for heart health; keeping blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes in check, as well as a hedge of sorts against cancer. Walnuts, though, have been shown to be effective in combatting arthritis. To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@ mantecabulletin.com


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Morning Worship @ 10:30am “Revive Us Again” (Revelation 3:14-17)

• Tuesday, March 8th Lesson @ 7pm “Families Of Faith” (Hebrews 11)

Evening Worship @ 6pm “Revival In The Home” (Luke 15:11-24)

• Wednesday, March 9th Lesson @ 7pm “A Perfect Home” (Revelation 21:1-8)

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 24, 2022

FROM BLOSSOM QUEEN TO MISS RIPON Naomi Wilbur looks back on her reign over Ripon’s long-running festival By JASON CAMPBELL The Bulletin

By this time next year Ripon High School senior Naomi Wilbur hopes to be working towards her degree in urban planning from Cal Poly. But her sights are first set on this weekend where she will formally hand her Miss Ripon title over to another young lady that will carry the storied torch of the Miss Almond Blossom for another year. And she couldn’t be happier about the chance to get to know the current Almond Queen hopefuls. “It was a really cool experience getting to know the Almond Queen when I was a contestant and getting to be that person this year has been great,” Wilbur said. “Some of the girls who are candidates this year I have known for 10-plus years, and I’ve gotten to know them a lot more throughout this year. “Everything has come full-circle knowing that I was in their position last year, and hopefully I can help prepare them for what it will be like when they win the title. Having that experience from a different position has been very rewarding.” The daughter of Lauren Ochoa and Ian Wilbur, Naomi said that despite being a lifelong Ripon resident, participating in the Almond Queen Court allowed her to the see inner workings of an event that she grew up loving to attend. And while she’s hoping to relocate to San Luis Obispo next year to attend Cal Poly and major in urban planning, getting to peel back the curtain and see exactly what it takes to put together an event that serves as a community unifier gave her an appreciation of Ripon that she wouldn’t otherwise have had. “I think it has been great getting to know the community members and the people who run the community,” Wilbur said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and by getting involved in the community this way I get to know the people who put so much time and effort into making Ripon as we know it. “It’s really cool to see the way that different businesses and organizations work together to create a cohesive community – it has allowed me to see how many people it takes to create the town we know and love. It’s been really eye-opening to see how much everyone contributes to everybody.” While Wilbur said that she’s excited about getting to crown the next person to step into the role, there will be things that she will miss when she steps off the stage. Even though the pandemic made things slightly different during her reign, Wilbur still got the chance to get out into the community and meet the same kinds of kids that she herself was growing up – those that looked at the high school girl in the crown and sash and aspired to one day be in the same position. “I think I will probably miss seeing the smiles on the faces of little kids when I show up in my crown and sash – watching their eyes light up has been the most rewarding experience throughout all of it,” Wilbur said. “I was the same way when I was growing up – seeing Miss Ripon and the Almond Blossom candidates – and I’m going to miss getting the chance to create that same experience for younger kids.” To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@ mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

Photo contributed

Naomi Wilbur, a Ripon High senior, will turn over her crown this week to the next Miss Almond Blossom – a title that will convert to Miss Ripon after the Almond Blossom Festival.

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 24, 2022


CALIFORNIA ALMONDS ALL IN A NUTSHELL . . . Everything from the fact that there are more than 100 varieties to the fact India is the top importer By DENN I S WYAT T Th e Bu lletin

Almond — is it pronounced “ahl-mond” with a soft “A” and soft “L” or is it “aah-men” with a hard “A” and neatly silent “H”? In many parts of Northern California they will tell you it’s the latter. Their rationale: You have to knock the “L” out of trees to shake loose the nuts. And they aren’t kidding about knocking the hell out of almond trees. Before mechanical shakers hit the market some 50 to 60 years ago, it was usual for many teen boys and young men looking for some extra cash to spend the late summer swinging heavy mallets to repeatedly shake almonds out of trees. Almonds are the No. 2 agricultural crop in the state at $5.62 billion. Dairy products such as milk are No. 1 overall in California at $7.47 billion. California is by far the largest farm state with $49.1 billion worth of crops in 2020. Almonds are just one of more than 400 commodities produced in the Golden State, Speaking of milk, it is a four-letter word as far as many in the dairy industry are concerned when it appears after the word “almond”. There is serious squabble going on regarding what’s in a name given almond milk and other “milk” made from products such as soybeans are nipping at the heels of milk sales. The dairy folks say milk comes from animals. That said almond milk is not a JohnnyCome-Lately creation although it certainly did not beat cow’s milk to man’s table. Muslims are credited with “inventing” almond milk in the 13th century. Almonds are not native to California. But you couldn’t tell that in terms of the almonds grown on 1.5 million acres in the Great Central Valley that account for 80 percent of the world’s almond production. No other country comes close. Spain is next with 202,339 tons but it pales in comparison with the 2 billion plus tons California produces. If San Joaquin County was its own country, it would have been the third largest nation

in terms of almond production in 2020 with 182,600 tons. San Joaquin County would have been sandwiched between Spain with 202,339 tons and Iran with 112,681 tons. But compared to other counties in California, San Joaquin County doesn’t make the top five. It would be No. 6 on the list behind Kern County, Fresno County, Stanislaus County, Merced County and Madera County. To put San Joaquin County’s production in perspective at $694 million it wasn’t quite half of the $1.5 billion that Fresno County grew in 2019. That’s the equivalent of roughly 65 percent of the entire $2.3 billion overall agricultural production for San Joaquin County. Fresno County, by the way, is still the largest agricultural producing county in the United States. With $7.9 billion in crop output in 2020 it would rank 23rd highest as a state. Little wonder they feel comfortable calling their county fair that typically draws 600,000 a year the Big Fresno Fair. Agriculture is still king in California as the Golden State’s $49.8 billion is $22 billion higher than its closest competitor which is Iowa. California produced 13.7 percent of the nation’s $369 billion in agricultural crops last year with most that in the 450 mile long and the 40 to 60 mile wide Great Central Valley. And yes, we do indeed have a lot of fruits and nuts in this state. In fact two thirds of all fruits and nuts grown in this country are from California. Topping the nuts and fruit list by far is almonds at $6.09 billion wedges between milk at No. 1 with $7.34 billion and all grapes at No. 3 with $5.21 billion. California exports almonds to 90 countries. The top importer is India. The $100 million they bought in 2019 constituted the largest commodify this country exported to India. Almost 70 percent of all exported almonds are shelled. They are the fifth biggest California export after, in descending order, aircraft and engines, electric vehicles, unmounted diamonds, and modems and similar communication devices.

Overall the direct economic benefit to the state is pegged at $9.2 billion and directly/ indirectly provides 110,000 jobs. This might surprise you but there are more than 100 varieties of almonds grown in California. The nonpareil is the leading variety followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel, and Padre. Almonds are not grown commercially anywhere else in the country. That’s because nowhere else in the nation is there a state can replicate California’s hot dry Mediterranean climate with a well-developed water infrastructure system. Here are a few more tidbits about California almonds: More than 90 percent of all almond farms are family farms. Many farms are second and third generation. Farmers have reduced the amount of water needed for grow a pound of almonds over the last 20 years by 33 percent. Growers are working on reducing that by another 20 percent by 2025 using microirrigation techniques. Dormant almond orchards are being explored as a viable way to disperse excess storm water in wet years to replenish underground aquifers. Initial analysis shows 675,000 acres of almonds have soul conducive for that purpose.

No part of the almond goes to waste. The shells are jaws for livestock bedding and as dairy feed. They also can be used to generate electricity as can the trees at the end of their lives. Although the California Almond Board won’t shout about it due to the environmental lobby, but as a hard wood almond logs are considered more effective by those that still have wood bending fireplaces. There are 7,600 almond farms in California. Research shows California almonds have a lower-carbon footprint than a number of otherness nutrient-dense foods. The pollination of almond orchards is the biggest of its kind drawing honey bee hives from across the nation in what is also the first crop pollination of the year. Blue Diamond indicates depending upon the variety and conditions it can take an almond tree five to 12 years to start producing almonds. Most almond trees produce almonds for 25 years. The nuts, depending upon the variety, can take 180 to 240 days to mature. An average commercial almond tree yields between 50 and 65 pounds. To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@ mantecabulletin.com

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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 24, 2022


Ripon Garden Club grand marshal of 60th annual festival parade By V I NC E R EMBU L AT Th e Bul let i n

Perhaps the mission of the Ripon Garden Club says it all. At Wednesday’s monthly session, club President Deb Travaille read that part out aloud: “to stimulate the knowledge and love of gardening; to aid in the protection of native trees, plants and birds; to improve and protect and protect the quality of the environment through programs and action in the fields of conservation and education.” She added: “(The Ripon Garden Club) is more than seeds and plants – it’s about children and the love we give and spread around.” Travaille and those involved in the local non-profit organization were thrilled to have the honor of being named grand marshals of the 60th annual Almond Blossom Festival, as announced by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce. Members of the Ripon Garden Club, Travaille noted, spent time with the Miss Almond Blossom /Miss Ripon Queen candidates – namely, Shay Cunningham, Annie Wild, Mackenzie Loechler, Hailey Knief, Ines Rodriguez, Brianna Alvarez, Jade Diaz, Katherine Van Unen, Chloe Price, Paris Ferrill, Ruth Visser, Kacy Thurman, Brooke Barros, Briley Perez and Heaven Elisary – in preparation of last month’s speech competition, incorporating this year’s theme: “Plant it, nurture it, watch it grow.” Each was applauded for their efforts. “They were amazing,” Travaille said. The Ripon Garden Club was created as a non-profit in 1954. A year before that, Pansy Dolezal, who garden club’s first-ever president, helped put the group together at the old Ripon Rifle clubhouse, according to Connie Jorgensen of the Historical Museum Commission. She was the special guest at the meeting held at American Legion Post #190. One of the early club donations from the early years was that of the ginkgo tree in front of the museum. Planted in 1962, the tree still stands to this day, towering over the former library, Jorgensen noted. She mentioned the Daisy Do’ers, which was an all-girls club at Ripon High consisting of eight members in the late 1960s through the early ‘70s. They not only did cleanup and beauti-

From left, Ripon Garden Club officers’ Fran Alboth (recording secretary), Shannon Kuhn (second vice president), Ann Mootz (parliamentarian), Linda King (first vice president) and Deb Travaille (president)

fication projects around town but entered in the open division of the San Joaquin County Fair’s horticulture projects, taking second place. “There wasn’t a category for high school girls back then,” Jorgensen said. The Ripon Garden Club, meanwhile, continues to support the local high school seniors and community college transfer students who are interested in pursuing an environmental, agricultural or horticultural focused degree, conducting the September Stroll in support of that endeavor.

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The club also supports current projects involving the downtown flower pots, Garden Therapy, arbor day activities, and the various school gardens and education programs, to name a few. The Ripon Garden Club, in addition, helped in saving the declining butterfly population by carefully creating the Butterfly Garden at Mavis Stouffer Park. As grand marshals, Travaille said that her group will be featured in Almond Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday, Feb. 26, beginning at 1 p.m. They’ll do so while riding in their own designed parade float.



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Almond Blossom Festival

The Bulletin-Thursday, February 24, 2022



Farmers well-versed in science, economics, marketing, exchange rates & more By JAS ON C AMPBEL L The Bu lletin

Anybody that thinks that farmers are “simple” has never spent any amount of time talking with Dave Phippen. Ask the Ripon almond grower and partner in Travaille and Phippen – which grows, packs, and ships almonds around the globe – about how the current bloom is going, and he can rattle off plant science like the back of his hand. Ask him about shipping issues thanks to disruptions to the global supply chain and he can talk at length about international trade and the need for investment in infrastructure that will help companies like his supply the world with their California-centric crop – steering away from the polarizing politics and sticking to pragmatic approaches that takes all views into account. And while the recent arrival of almond blossoms might be a little bit earlier than the historical average, Phippen is focusing on the positives of having orchards full of blooming trees rather than the reasons why they may be blooming when they are. “We’re not quite as early as last year, but we’re earlier than the year before,” Phippen said of the bloom that is currently turning rural Central Valley communities white with blossoms. “I’m not a big fan of the discussion about climate change, but in my earlier years as a farmer I would try like heck to find a bloom on Valentine’s Day and now we’re definitely blooming earlier than we used to. “But it’s a beautiful bloom – we see lots of happy bees out there, and as an almond grower this is all your dreams come true. We have something like 20 different types of trees out in these orchards, and right now it looks like every one of them is going to be a grand slam this year.” According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s measurement report released back in July, California had – at that time – 1.33 million bearing acres of almonds that last year produced 2.8 billion meat pounds of almonds. While that was a slight decline from the previous year’s record of 3.12 billion meat pounds, the USDA attributed that to low water allocations and record high temperatures in the month of June, resulting in a lower overall yield. But the early season conditions of the past several years remain as strong as ever. A relatively dry and warm February is allowing the blossoms to take hold strongly, and while there is some con-

Dave Phippen at the Travaille and Phippen almond huller on Graves Road.

cern among almond growers that this may be a little too early to celebrate, Phippen isn’t buying to the pessimism just yet. “It may be a little warm in the beginning and there is some concern that there will be a flash bloom – here today and gone tomorrow,” Phippen said. “I’m not buying into that just yet. I’m very optimistic about this year, and at this time of the year you dread seeing rain clouds because bees don’t fly when it’s raining outside. “It being so dry right now might not be the most positive thing later on this year depending on the water conditions, but right now I’m just focusing on today and there is a beautiful bloom out there.” Because the United States provides as much as 70 percent of the world’s almond exports, the fear of COVID upsetting the demand for the precious tree nut was strong in the beginning of the pandemic. But while industries across the board watched demand for their products dry up as people stayed home, almond production did not suffer the same fate – with Europe and Asia leading the charge. Getting the almonds there, however, is a different conversation entirely.

Because of widespread disruptions to the global supply chain, Phippen said it has been a challenge to meet the demand coming from the far corners of the globe – whether that’s because they can’t find trucks to take the almonds from the plants in the Central Valley over to the coast to be shipped, or can’t find ships that can actually make the long trip across the Pacific Ocean. “We’ve run into problems that I thought we would when the pandemic first started – it’s finally here,” Phippen said. “If I took you into my warehouse right now you would see the bins stacked up and just rows and rows of disappointment because trucks didn’t come to pick up the load. “The growers know about it, and the handlers are feeling the same pain, and we’re all kind of worried we’re having a difficult time getting them to where they need to go and we know that there’s a possibility it can get worse.” A third-generation almond farmer, Phippen was a founding partner of Riponbased Travaille and Phippen – which grows, harvests, processes, packs, and ships almonds all over the world. Since the business plays a role in the entire lifecycle

of an almond – from seed to feed – farmers like Phippen have a deep understanding of not just what it takes to grow quality almonds, but also what happens once they’re shaken from the tree. And despite that depth of knowledge Phippen hasn’t seen anything like what growers, packers, and shippers are currently facing in his decades of working the rows of trees that produce one of the county’s most valuable bounties. “We started handling shipping in 1983, and have never experienced this kind of challenge,” Phippen said. “Before it was a challenge to get it sold or find buyers – match the market – but the demand is there for us right now. “The problem is the ship isn’t shipping – and when that happens, we have lost that opportunity because it’s not like the next day you’re going to get two ships. And if say India had wanted that load, they might be a little less likely to buy from us next time because they can’t rely on making sure that it’ll get there. Globally speaking the worst place to ship from are the ports on the West Coast, and long story short we aren’t going to be able to fix this overnight – hopefully the federal government in some

of its infrastructure push can spend some of that money on the ports so that we can catch up to other places.” While weather concerns, supply chain issues, and an abundance of back stock may all lead to future headaches for growers and shippers of almonds, Phippen said that he’s not focusing on those issues right now. At the end of the day, he said, there’s a beautiful bloom taking place and he intends to

stop, smell it, and focus on the things he has control over. “Right now, I’m just going to enjoy that bloom – walk outside and suck up that aroma because it smells so good out there,” Phippen said. “When you’re served lemons, you make lemonade, right?” To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@ mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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