Doug Ranno sings of Ag Ed

B9316163311Z.1_20150213194017_000_GDO9T1301.1-0Salinas Californian

Singer/songwriter Doug Ranno is a giver, and promoting agriculture education and healthful eating is one of the causes about which he feels deeply.

The Salinas resident and his band The Harvesting Crew will provide music for an event benefiting projects of the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation this month. It will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at Corral de Tierra Country Club, 81 Corral de Tierra Road.

It’s being billed as Guitars, Old Cars for Salad Bars.

“They (the foundation) needed a significant event and we decided to get behind them,” Ranno said. “They’re a bunch of people who have … the right mission.”

The foundation will use proceeds from the event to promote agriculture education and to place salad bars in local schools.

“The biggest challenge with agriculture is for people to understand how much work and labor goes into it,” Ranno said, “and how can we bring local political leaders (and others) to learn about it. I don’t think you’re going to find anybody in the ag industry … who says putting salad bars in schools is a bad idea.”

Susan Marscellas, executive director of the Grower-Shipper Foundation, said about 40 schools in the tri-county area have benefited from the salad bar project.

“It helps with diabetes, obesity, and it’s an awesome way to showcase the salad bar capital of the world,” she said.

The produce in the schools program seeks out ag and other firms to buy and donate salad bar equipment to schools and educate them on how to make them successful, while promoting a healthy eating lifestyle.

Marscellas said it’s difficult for schools to afford the salad bar equipment, so when it’s given to a school along with leafy greens the school has more money in its budget to buy other produce.

The Grower-Shipper Association Foundation partners in the effort with Healthy Eating Lifestyle Principles, a nonprofit started by Salinas businessman Basil Mills, and Ag Against Hunger.

“Our goal,” Marscellas said, “is to get a salad bar in every school and give children a chance to eat fresh produce.”

She said Ranno jumped into the fundraiser with both feet and has been working hard to make it a success.

“The thing that made it special is a lot of people come to you with ideas and you get the assignment,” Marcellas said. “But Doug came and said, ‘I’ll help you do this.’ He literally was dialing for dollars for a concert event.”

Ranno, 56, is a Sacramento native who has been writing music and performing it most of his life. But he also has a background in agriculture. He started the firm Colorful Harvest in Salinas, a strawberry and special crops company, which he sold in 2013. And before that he worked for Raley’s, Chiquita and Wild Oats Market.

His career then turned to music full-time. His band plays a blend of California country, Nashville country, and delta blues. Last year, Ranno and The Harvesting Crew released its first CD, titled “The Musical Harvester.” It features Ranno’s song, “Part of Me,” that was used as background music for the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Perceptions.”

Another song, “Strange Harvest,” written with friend Greg Crowe, has been selected as background music for a pilot TV show Ranno is involved with as co-host. The show, based in Austin, Texas, is also titled “Strange Harvest.” The concept is visiting and celebrating local farmers and growers around the United States.

Ranno also has appeared on the Food Network show “Unwrapped” several times.

Ranno’s bandmates are equally talented. They are Jim Norris on drums, Bill Laymon on bass, Jon Dryden on keyboards, Harpin’ Jonny Troutner on harmonica, Bobby Black on pedal steel guitar and Richard Bryan and Lauri Hofer on vocals.

Another of Ranno’s fundraising efforts is producing unusually shaped electric guitars which are auctioned off for charities. Ranno contracts with individual guitar makers to build the guitars.

Among the guitars Ranno has donated are a strawberry-shaped guitar, a pineapple, a bunch of grapes, a cowboy boot, a hamburger, a golf club and an apple. Some country music stars have signed the guitars before they are auctioned, including Trace Atkins.

Two of Ranno’s special guitars will be auctioned off at the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation event on Feb. 20. The event also will feature a strolling dinner, wine tasting and a silent auction along with the music.

Tickets are $85, available at eventbrite.com or 831-422-9007.

For more on Doug Ranno & The Harvesting Crew, visit Dougrannomusic.com.

Tom Leyde is a free lance writer and former Californian staff member living in Salinas.

Contact him at thomasthomas9330@sbcglobal.net.

 

To attend

What: Concert at Corral, featuring Doug Ranno & The Harvesting Crew, titled Guitars, Old Cars For Salad Bars, with red carpet photo entry, strolling dinner, wine tasting and silent auction

Where: Corral de Tierra Country Club, 81 Corral de Tierra Road

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 20

Why: Benefit for the Grower-Shipper Association Foundation project to support agriculture education and install salad bars in local schools.

Tickets: $85.

Information: eventbrite.com or 831-422-9007

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