The San Benito Agricultural Land Trust is governed by a board of directors. The all volunteer board is composed of community leaders who are involved the County’s farming, business and government industries. The board meets once a month, and there is a general membership meeting once a year.
The current directors for the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust are:
Paul Hain, President
Paul F. Hain is a 5th generation California farmer/Rancher in the Tres Pinos area of central California. Paul is the owner/operator of John Hain & Sons (the family business) and Hain Ranch Organics. He received his B.S. in Pomology from Cal Poly, SLO in 1976 before returning to the ranch to work with his father, uncle, Paul has been active in his community as a member of the local elementary school board and was a volunteer firefighter serving San Benito County for 27 years. He is also active in, the San Benito Ag Land Trust, Central Coast Ag Water Quality Coalition, and a past director the Community Alliance With Family Farmers. Paul is a fellow of class 32 of the California Ag Leadership Program. Paul’s organic journey begin in 1993 with the certification of some of his orchard land and now raises organic pastured eggs, organic pastured broilers, and organic walnuts. The pasturing of chickens in the walnut orchard is an experiment that has been going on for 14 years and has shown benefits to both enterprises. All aspects of the livestock operations are geared to a stress free environment to produce the highest quality meat and eggs available on the central coast. This last year the poultry operation was leased to a young couple with the assistance of Farmlink so Paul could spend more time on the walnuts. Paul is married to Leticia and have two grown children and five grandchildren.
Sara Steiner, Secretary
Sara Steiner is a long time resident in Hollister’s Cienega Valley. Sara’s background in wine production spans over 30 years and she is currently winemaker for Gabilan Wine Company. She is also the proprietor of San Benito Tea Company, growing and packaging herbal teas for local markets. Although born and raised in San Francisco, she acquired her rural roots while in college at UC Davis. Sara values the open space and agriculture that have supported her careers. Her work with the land trust will help provide essential economic and environmental sustainability to others in our community.
Ron Ross, Treasurer
Ron has been involved in agriculture since his graduation from the University of Florida. Starting in production agriculture in the San Jaoquion Valley, Ron also worked in agricultural lending and most recently served as the Agricultural Commissioner for San Benito County. From his experiences, Ron recognized the importance of protecting working lands and open space as they contribute to the local economy and the general well-being of the community. Ron has been involved in the Land Trust since 2004 and is currently serving as the Treasurer.
Dan Dungy, Director
Dan has called San Benito County home since 1993 and has been active with the San Benito County Agricultural Trust for 10 years as a volunteer and a Director. He appreciates the value of agriculturally productive land; for the economy and for the landscape that witnesses the stewardship of the land by the county’s farmers and ranchers. Dan retired from California State Parks and lives in Hollister with his wife Nancy, a teacher at Cienega School. Together they have three grown children.
Michael Brigantino, Director
Michael was born and raised in San Benito County. Growing up he lived and worked on the family cattle ranch. He attended San Benito High School and later went on to get a Bachelor’s in Agricultural Business from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. During his college years he worked for local farmers and gained an appreciation for the Agriculture Industry. After college he went on to work for San Benito Realty as a real estate agent specializing in selling agricultural properties. Michael has been working at San Benito Realty since 2013 and is now a Broker and joined the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust in 2017.
Dave Brigantino, Director
Dave Brigantino is a lifelong San Benito County resident. Born into a farming and ranching family in 1956. He grew up raising apricots, walnuts and cattle. He attended local grade schools, Sunnyslope and Sacred Heart in Hollister. Dave then attended Palma High School and Hartnell College in Salinas. Dave started farming in San Benito County with his brother Chris in 1976 raising apricots, walnuts, lettuce, peppers, sugar beets, hay and grains. He and his brother Chris also started an irrigation company in 1977 which his brother still operates today. He married his wife Dixie in 1984 and have two grown children Jena and Michael. Dave became a real estate agent with his father Ralph in 1984 and took over the operation in 1987. He specializes in selling agricultural properties in California and sold many ranches in San Benito County. Dave now operates a sizable cattle operation with his brother Chris and also owns several farming ranches in San Benito County. Dave has a passion for agricultural life and became a member of the San Benito Agricultural Trust Board in 2014. He worked on several conservation easements and was instrumental in writing the Soap Lake Conservation Easement.