2015 FARMER OF THE YEAR
The Wohlfords are a remarkable family with historic farming roots. Lake Wohlford was named after Alvin W. Wohlford who began farming in Escondido in 1891 when he purchased 150 acres of citrus known as Eureka Ranch. Alvin helped to stabilize Escondido Mutual Water Company when it was suffering financially, and later purchased the Bank of Escondido. Alvin was instrumental in developing a system of selling shares in Escondido Mutual Water Company which was a great help to local farmers. Alvin W. Wohlford was the grandfather of 2015 Farmer of the Year, Burnet F. (Tig) Wohlford.
In his early years Tig went to Orange Glen Elementary, and graduated from Escondido High School in 1946. Every summer during high school Tig worked on the family citrus ranches. He also picked lemons and oranges every day after school during the war because there was such a shortage of labor. During this time, Tig also worked as a surveyor for Escondido Mutual Water Company.
Tig looked at going to school at San Diego State but instead decided to attend a new conservative business school in Claremont named Claremont Men’s College. Tig was the very first graduating freshman class at CMC in 1950. While attending college, the war in Korea began in 1948 and Tig joined the National Guard 40th division so that he could finish college and earn a degree in Business Administration.
During college summers Tig continued to work as a surveyor for the Escondido Mutual Water Company surveying the company’s new water line locations. He also worked for Escondido Cement Products making concrete pipe that was used in all of the groves in the area for irrigation. He also worked on the family ranches in Escondido and a 500 acre grapefruit and alfalfa parcel in Yuma that the Bank of Escondido had to re-possess. He traveled back and forth between Claremont and Escondido during the winter months to help with smudging during freezes.
After graduating college in 1950 the Department of the Army called up the National Guard 40th and 45th Division to begin training at Camp Cook in Santa Maria, California. After a year of training Tig was shipped out to northern Japan where he trained for a year in Sendai, Japan. He was transferred to North Korea on the 38th parallel, where he served in the Army. The first night he arrived there it was 29 degrees below zero. Tig was there for only 3 months working supply when his 4 year enlistment with the National Guard ended in 1952.
When he returned home Tig moved to Santa Monica to work for Douglas Aircraft until he was able to use the GI Bill to attend Cal Poly Pomona to study agriculture. He only studied agriculture one year at Pomona before his father, B.C., had a serious injury in 1953 and Tig had to return to Escondido to assist in the operations of the family business. In 1955, after working on the family ranches for two years, Tig bought his own 40 acre parcel where he planted oranges, lemons, grapefruit and avocados that he called Rancho Lemora. In 1960 he bought the Hinrichs property, which was planted to 10 acres of avocados. In 1966 he purchased Rancho Oro Verde, a 50 acre parcel on the rim of San Pasqual Valley, where he planted avocados. Lastly, in 1975 he planted 25 acres of avocados on the undeveloped Canyon Ranch. He remained busy managing the citrus and avocados on these properties for the following 35 years. Today Tig is semi-retired but is still involved in the major farming operation decisions and enjoys keeping current on the issues of agriculture. Tig’s son, Burnet Wohlford, is on the San Diego County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.
The 2015 Farmer of the Year Nominating Committee agreed that Tig’s involvement and work on behalf of agriculture throughout his lifetime has been to the betterment of agriculture as a whole in San Diego County. The Wohlford family’s agricultural legacy is cemented in the groves of citrus and avocado that still thrive in Escondido, and in the pipes that Tig helped to build, and the water the Wohlfords helped to secure for the farmers and residents of the region.
San Diego County Farm Bureau Past Farmers of the Year