Described as “a staple of the San Benito County Farm Bureau” who has served on its board of directors for more than 70 years, farmer Al Bonturi of Hollister received statewide recognition when he was presented the California Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award. Bonturi received the award last night during the 101st CFBF Annual Meeting in Monterey.
In nominating him for the award, the San Benito County Farm Bureau said Bonturi continues to farm his walnut orchard, at the age of 94, with his son, Gregg. He served as president of the county Farm Bureau from 1957-59 and on its board of directors before and since, including current service on its nominating and office building committees.
“No one personifies the ties among a farmer, his land and his community better than Al Bonturi,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “He’s known for being happy, honest and hardworking, and for sharing his passion for agriculture with members of the community.”
Bonturi began farming at age 14 after his father died, and raised apricots, prunes, grapes and walnuts before concentrating on walnuts alone. He served on the California Walnut Commission and participated in research projects through University of California Cooperative Extension. An experimental walnut variety in the UC Davis collection known as Sirbon was named for him. He was honored as San Benito County Farmer of the Year in 2010.
The Distinguished Service Award has been presented annually since 1953 to dedicated Farm Bureau members from California. In addition to the award to Bonturi, CFBF presented the Distinguished Service Award to former CFBF Administrator Rich Matteis.