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Executive Committee

 

Ken AltmanPresident :
Ken Altman

Ken Altman is the owner and President of Altman Specialty Plants Inc. in Vista, CA. Founded in 1973 with his wife, Deena, Altman Plants arose out of a cacti and succulent hobby that out grew their backyard. Altman Plants currently has facilities in Southern and Northern California, Arizona and Florida. Altman Plants grows annuals and perennials and additionally is the largest grower of cacti and succulents in the United States.

Ken is also the President of the Center for Applied Horticultural Research, a non-profit plant research facility he founded in 2007.

Ken received his doctorate degree in clinical Psychology in 1973. He and Deena have 3 grown children two of whom work at Altman Plants. Hobbies include tennis, reading, travel and horticulture.

Neil Nagata1st Vice- President:
Neil Nagata

Neil Nagata is a third generation southern California farmer. His family has been in Oceanside since 1939, farming strawberries, tomatoes and various vegetables. A graduate in Entomology from the University of California, Davis. He is a licensed Pest Control Advisor and grows strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cherimoyas and assorted vegetables.

Enrico Ferro2nd Vice- President:
Enrico Ferro

Enrico grew up in Temecula and began helping his dad with inspections on citrus and avocado groves at a young age. He received a BS in Biology from UCR and began working as a Pest Control Adviser in 1997. He does inspections on about 4000 acres of citrus and avocados in San Diego and Riverside Counties. He also has an avocado grove and lives in Valley Center. He began working as the San Diego Co. grower liaison for CDFA in 2014.  Enrico likes to cook, ride motorcycles, swim and ski.

Pierre SleimanSecretary:
Pierre Sleiman

Pierre grows organic outter lettuce, bloomsdale spinach and kale in hydropnic greenhouses for GoGreen Agriculture. He undergrad from UC Riverside in Computer Science and Business and has a Masters in Business from UC San Diego. He started the business when he was fresh out of college. GoGreen Agriculture supplies over 300K plants per month to over 400 local customers from just a 2.5-acre footprint. Pierre enjoys practicing Martial Arts and has a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He also enjoys building remote control airplanes and helicopters.

Janet KisterTreasurer: Janet Silva Kister

Janet Silva Kister is the co-owner of Sunlet Nursery, Inc., in Fallbrook with her husband John. Founded by the Kister's on five acres in 1985, Sunlet Nursery, Inc. has grown to 25 acres and employs a staff of 85.

Specializing in growing florist quality indoor flowering plants and selected foliage plants for wholesale customers throughout the United States, the Sunlet Nursery name gained national recognition for introducing the Kimberley Queen® fern into the United States from Australia and for their award winning Jester's Crown USPP #16531 fern.

In recognition for her contributions to the nursery industry, she was honored as the San Diego County Flower and Plant Association's "Person of the Year" in 1998. She was also honored as the 66th Assembly District Woman of the Year in 2004 and the San Diego County Farmer of the Year in 2006.

A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, College of Agriculture Technology, she also holds a Masters of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University. Janet and John have two daughters and two grandchildren.

Julie WalkerPast President::
Julie Walker

Julie is co-owner and founder of Obra Verde Growers in Valley Center, California, along with her husband Joe, since 1975. Specializing in Australian, New Zealand and South African cut flowers and plants, Obra Verde Growers is the exclusive distributor in the United States of hybrid Australian plants, as granted by the Department of Primary Industries out of Western Australia.  Obra Verde Growers also serves as an Ornamental Supplier for Ball Horticultural.

Julie is a past board and executive committee member of the CA Association of Flower Growers and Shippers, also serving as the Fun N Sun Convention Chair in 2003 and the Grower Tour Chair in 2002. She served as a member of the Transportation Committee and chaired the Millennium Committee.

She also was the grower tour coordinator for the International Protea Association Convention in 2006.  Julie served as a board member for the SD Flower and Plant Association for two years.

Julie and Joe have three grown children, Jessie, Micah and Matthew, their spouses, and two grandchildren.

Eric Larson

SDCFB Executive Director:
Eric Larson

Eric Larson is the Executive Director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau. He has held that position since January 1997. Eric began working in San Diego County's agricultural industry in 1971. His professional activities have included two years as president of the San Diego County Flower and Plant Association. He also serves as a director of the Southern California Water Committee and a member of the Southern California Ag Water Team. In addition to his work in agriculture, he served two terms as a member of the Carlsbad City Council and is a past director of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District, the San Diego County Water Authority, and the Encina Wastewater Authority.

Eric and his wife Jennifer live in Carlsbad and have two grown sons.