Community Bridges’ 8th Annual Farm to Fork Gala to Benefit Flood-Impacted Pajaro Farmers, Farmworkers

PAJARO, CA — Community Bridges’ annual Farm to Fork Gala is back for its 8th year, and this year the Santa Cruz County nonprofit has teamed up with the Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains to help raise financial relief funds for farmers and farmworkers affected by this year’s storms and floods in the Pajaro Valley, with a portion of the proceeds helping support Community Bridges’ family of ten programs.  

The annual event will be held in Pajaro on Sunday, July 30 from 4pm to 8pm. Attendees will enjoy a wine-tasting session highlighting distinguished local wineries and vintners, and an elegant family-style dinner from renowned Home Restaurant Chef Brad Briske featuring local ingredients. Tickets are $175 per person, or $1,400 for a table of eight. 

Lester Properties is opening the historic produce packaging and shipping facility at 417 Salinas Road on the main strip in Pajaro for the event.  

Proceeds will be split between California FarmLink, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), and Community Bridges programs, which include its Family Resource Collective, Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County, and Santa Cruz County’s WIC program. 

We are proud to support the work Community Bridges continues to do for the Pajaro Community,” said Jim Cargill, Board President of Wines of the Santa Cruz Mountains. “This winter’s storms significantly impacted our association’s farm workers and staff, many of whom have faced immense challenges as a result of the destruction. In times like these, it is crucial that we come together as a community to offer support and resources to those who have been affected the most. Through our partnership, we hope to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected by the winter storms and flooding.” 

Since March 11, Community Bridges, with help from participating local nonprofit partners, has distributed more than $1 million in direct economic assistance to Pajaro residents who have been impacted by the recent devastating floods. Community Bridges has also provided more than $500,000 in indirect assistance through community outreach, political advocacy, essential items and supplies, free cleanup tools, and educational sessions regarding tenant and landlord rights, FEMA assistance, and insurance applications.  

The distribution of economic assistance has been made possible thanks to thousands of donations to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, Community Foundation for Monterey County, and Community Bridges’ Pajaro Flood Relief fund, the latter of which has collected more than $500,000 from more than 2,000 supporters. 

But more philanthropic help is needed to ensure that our agricultural industry in Monterey County and the Pajaro Valley, especially our small, local farmers and dedicated farmworkers who are the backbone of the field, can recover from the floods.  

Our keynote speaker, Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Juan Hidalgo, states that more than 8,700 acres of crops were destroyed or unable to be planted due to flooding from the March storms alone, totaling $264 million in current and projected future losses across the county. Including the impact from the January storms, the recent weather events cost the county’s agricultural sector some $600 million in losses and impacted just over 20,000 crop acres. 

This disruption has rippling impacts on farmers, farmworkers, and the community at-large. Strawberry growers, the chief agricultural niche in the Pajaro Valley, saw the biggest losses from the March storms, as more than 1,900 acres were damaged totaling losses of $160 million. Many fields will be fallow this season, leaving a number of farmworkers without a way to provide for their families. Far worse, many farmworkers have been directly affected by the storms and flooding, and a large portion will not qualify for FEMA federal assistance and will depend on limited philanthropy dollars to recover. 

“We know that both Monterey and Santa Cruz county communities truly care about the recovery of those hard-working community members impacted by the storms. This event is surely an opportunity to do good by helping to fundraise for both farmworkers and small farmers who have had fewer opportunities to receive assistance from the government,” said Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino. “We hope that we as an agency continue to do our small part to highlight the needs of those still in need of recovery as well as provide opportunities and ways to get those who want to help a pathway to get involved.”  

To purchase tickets or to find more information about Community Bridges and the 8th Annual Farm to Fork Gala, visit communitybridges.org/events.  

Questions? Contact donations@cbridges.org or call 831-688-8840 ext. 205.  

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