Home Industry News Economics Six New Farmers Join the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame

Six New Farmers Join the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame

On Thursday, October 19, 2023 at a dinner at the Robert Cabral Ag Center, 6 new members were inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame.  The 2023 San Joaquin Agricultural Hall of Fame Inductees were:

Dr. Marit Arana, A.L. Gilbert Company

Eugene “Gene” Wallom, Lodi Farming Inc.
Marden Wilbur, Lane Ranches
Edward “Eddie” Alfred Zuckerman, Zuckerman Family Farms
Marc R. Marchini (Posthumous)
Chester “Bud” Rolland Murphy (Posthumous)

The San Joaquin County Ag Hall of Fame honors those who have contributed so much to a great part of our heritage.  Our Agricultural Hall of Fame marks the efforts and history of those who have gone before, those who have graced our homes and enriched our hearts and those who in the days past laid the foundation upon which we build for today and tomorrow.  The agricultural community is a wonderful example of people working together and continuing a tradition that has been handed down throughout the years from people who had to sacrifice a great deal, both personally and physically, to nurture our land and our community.

Honoree Bios:

Dr. Marit Arana

Dr. Marit Arana’s journey into agriculture exemplifies dedication and passion. Despite a non-agricultural background, her love for horses ignited at an early age. Determined to own a horse, she saved $200 by age 8, a promise her parents honored, marking the beginning of her lifelong agricultural involvement.

Her academic path led her to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she ultimately, earned a Bachelor of Science in Animal Sciences. She had a short detour while at Cal Poly and earned an AA degree in Animal Health Technology from Hartnell College in Salinas.  Her educational journey continued at California State University, Fresno, where she achieved a Master of Science in Animal Sciences, specializing in equine nutrition and exercise physiology.

Marit’s educational pursuit culminated in a Ph.D. in Animal Nutrition from the University of Arizona. Post-graduation, she returned to California, working for the University of California Cooperative Extension as the Dairy Farm Advisor for San Joaquin, Sacramento, Yolo, Solano and Contra Costa Counties.

Marit joined the A.L. Gilbert Company as a nutritionist, and swiftly rose to Head of the Nutrition Department. Her expertise in animal nutrition extended to serving as the National President for the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists (ARPAS) in 2008-2009. She also has played a pivotal role as Chairman of the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Feed Inspection Advisory Board since September 2013.

Marit’s contributions aren’t limited to agriculture. She’s been an active member of the Agricultural Awareness and Literacy Foundation (AAL), supporting consumer education through initiatives like Farmology, which educates children about the origins of their food, particularly those with little agricultural knowledge.

Her involvement in activities such as the San Joaquin Chapter of California Women for Agriculture, participation in scholarship committees, mentoring students, and engagement with legislators, showcases her extensive impact on agricultural and non-agricultural communities. Her leadership and commitment to mentoring have inspired countless individuals, encouraging the next generation.

Eugene “Gene” Wallom

Eugene “Gene” Wallom, born in 1936 in New Glarus, Wisconsin, where he grew up helping his father on his farms from a very young age. Through his hard work and dedication, Gene landed a job and formed a partnership with Dino Cortopassi to from Donco Farm Equipment. This was the beginning of a fifty-five year partnership.

In 1988, Gene and Cortopassi founded Lodi Farming Inc., a vineyard and orchard operation. They made significant innovations in agriculture, such as double cropping of wheat and kidney beans, no-till farming practices, center pivots, and the invention of a tomato vine trainer. They also built over-the-row equipment for vineyards, allowing two rows to be sprayed, dusted, or trimmed with one pass. Gene was one of the first to plant apples in San Joaquin County, planting the first orchard of Fuji in 1987.

Soon Lodi Farming Inc. transformed into the largest apple grower in California. Gene was also one of the first to plant cover crops in orchards and vineyards, improving water penetration, soil tilth, and increasing organic matter in the soil. Gene has been a member of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau for over 60 years, serving as a volunteer project leader for the Alpine Victor 4-H Club. He has been a strong supporter of the San Joaquin County Junior Livestock Auction and has been a charter member of the Early Days Gas Engines and Tractors Association. Gene is also a member of the Mid-Valley Apple Association, the Lodi District Grape Growers Association, and the San Joaquin Valley Swiss Club. Gene served in the US Army from 1956-1960 and volunteered as a Lost Wax jewelry making instructor. Gene and his late wife Karen enjoyed traveling, especially on river cruises and he enjoys spending time with family and friends. His innovation, perseverance and devotion to his work has make him an important part of the San Joaquin community.

Marden Wilber

Marden Wilber, a graduate of University of California, Davis, has found success by embracing new ideas, working with others, and giving back to his community. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Marden owned and operated the El Mar Angus herd of purebred Angus cattle. In 1969, he was awarded the American Angus Association’s “Picture Bull of the Breed” and was named California’s Outstanding Young Farmer.

In 1978, he established a partnership with his father-in-law Kenneth Lane. They started Lane Ranches, a successful cow-calf and stocker operation. In 2003, Marden was honored as the California Livestock Man of the Year at the 59th Grand National Rodeo, Horse, and Stock Show. Marden is a leader in environmental stewardship. He originated and directed flood control projects, and implemented an Agricultural Water Conservation Program.

In 1999 he established the Fitzgerald Ranch Conservation Bank, to protect and help vulnerable animal species in the area. Throughout his lifetime, Marden served as a leader in the cattle and agriculture industry, serving multiple committees such as the Cal Expo Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee, California Cattlemen’s Association, the San Joaquin County Valley Hay Growers Association and other organizations. He was an original founding member of the California Beef Cattle Improvement Association and the Northern California Angus Association. Marden was involved with the San Joaquin County Multi Species Habitat Conservation and Open Space Plan, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, the State Department of Fish and Game, and the Army Corps of Engineers on various projects to maintain a rural environment in the Clements area.

Marden has volunteered and worked tirelessly, whether lobbying in Washington D.C., locally, or at the state level, on issues that he feels are critical to the agriculture industry. Marden was a Rotary member for over 25 years and is a Past President. He has served on countless committees involving the Clements community and is a University of California, Davis Alumni Association Member. Today, at the age of 87, Marden is still serving his community for the betterment of agriculture and the environment.

Edward “Eddie” Alfred Zuckerman

Edward Alfred Zuckerman, known as “Eddie”, is a third-generation farmer from the San Joaquin County Delta. His journey in agriculture began after earning a bachelor’s in business, when he joined his father in cultivating potatoes on McDonald Island. In 1978, Eddie’s vision diversified the family business as he introduced turf grass, founding the Delta Bluegrass Company.

Since then, Eddie’s farming enterprise has thrived, expanding to around 8,000 acres with diverse crops such as sod, potatoes, corn, rice, almonds, wine grapes, wheat, barley, alfalfa, and sunflowers. Zuckerman Farms is now one of California’s largest potato growers and packers, serving local, national, and international markets. Delta Bluegrass Company, which he nurtured, is the largest sod grower in Northern California, acclaimed for its premium products. Eddie employs nearly 700 people annually, primarily in San Joaquin County.

Eddie’s agricultural innovations shine, with Delta Bluegrass Company pioneering drought tolerant Kurapia and introducing native, eco-friendly grasses. His embrace of technology is evident in modern farming practices, utilizing advanced equipment, mobile app-driven irrigation, and robotics.

Beyond farming, Eddie’s leadership extends to co-founding Delta Growers and serving as President of Turf Producers International. Eddie has served on the board for Central Delta Water Agency for more than 20 years and is very much involved in the ag and urban water matters for the San Joaquin Delta and California. Throughout the years Eddie has also served as a board member of various agricultural organizations, making a significant impact in the ag industry.

In non-agricultural domains, Eddie’s service is admirable. He’s a National Ski Champion and a generous supporter of charitable organizations like St. Mary’s Dining Hall, Stockton’s Gospel Center Rescue Mission, Bread of Life, Red Rhino, and Uplift Foundation, to name a few.

Marc R. Marchini

Marc R. Marchini was born on December 15, 1941 in San Francisco, California and passed away August 7, 2018. Marc had a lasting impact on his brother, daughter, grandchildren, countless students and the community. Throughout high school Marc was involved with FFA and later attended Modesto Junior College. After some time at Fresno State Marc returned to Union Island to work in the family farming operation headed by his father and uncle.

In 1983, Marc, his brother Paul, and father Angelo formed A. Marchini & Sons (later becoming A.M. Farms) where they predominantly grew asparagus and wine grapes. Throughout his career he participated in numerous research initiatives with the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) helping to improve asparagus cultivation practices, varietal development, pest and disease eradication, and mechanization.

Marc was a recognized leader in the Delta as well as at the state and national level. Locally, he was active in the San Joaquin Farm Bureau and the Robert Union Farm Center. He also found time to be a trustee on the school boards of Delta Island and Tracy Unified School District. He even played an instrumental part in the planning and building of Merrill F. West High School. Marc sat on the board for the Stockton Asparagus Festival where he took pride in the festival’s famous Asparagus Alley. On the state level, he was involved in the California Asparagus Growers Association and creation of the California Asparagus Commission where he served as Chairman. Nationally, he represented the California asparagus industry by serving as a member of the National Asparagus Council.

Agriculture was more than a vocation for Marc, it was an advocation. The impact he has made not only on his family but the community will live on.

Chester “Bud” Rolland Murphy

Chester “Bud” Rolland Murphy, grew up in Telegraph City on his family cattle ranch and passed away on February 22, 1991. Growing up Bud worked on the family Cow Calf operation while attending Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp, California.

Soon after graduation, he attended Stockton College, where he studied and obtained a degree in math and engineering. Bud was drafted into the United States Army after college, where he completed four years of service. When Bud returned home, he helped run his family’s beef cattle ranches.

In the early 1940’s, the family expanded their cattle operation to San Joaquin County. This move gave Bud the opportunity to use his engineering degree to develop the grasslands around Farmington into irrigated farmland that is still used today. Bud also used his engineering education to build over twenty reservoirs and stock ponds with the cooperation of the California Department of Water Resources. These stock ponds were not only used on his own ranches, but also for neighboring ranchers in his community. Bud understood the importance of water storage in this state and served as a longtime, founding member of the Central San Joaquin Water Conservation District.

At heart, Bud was a cattle rancher, and in the 1970’s-1980’s, he developed a purebred polled Hereford herd. He was one of the first breeders to improve his herd using embryo transplants which won him many champions at major shows throughout California and all over the United States.

Through all of this he saw the benefits to raising children within the agricultural community. With his wife Erna and their four children, he was a generous supporter of both the Farmington 4-H Club and the Escalon FFA Chapter. He encouraged his own children to be active members in both organizations and he continued to support them well after his family was aged out of the programs and into his late years.
About the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce     
Founded on February 21, 1901, the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce speaks for thousands of local businesspeople. For these 122 years, the Chamber has been the authoritative voice in all business matters throughout the Central Valley.  The mission of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce is to aggressively develop and promote an economically vibrant business community.    

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