Join the Double Your Impact Challenge

In the month of May, Gills Onions will match all donations up to $12,500 for every dollar donated to Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) as part of SEEAG’s third annual Double Your Impact Challenge.

“The generosity of our friends at Gill’s Onions means SEEAG will receive as much as $25,000 to support our Farm Lab program,” says Mary Maranville, SEEAG’s founder and CEO.  “Farm Lab is a combination of classroom learning and farm field trips where students learn all about the origins of their food, particularly locally-grown food. The money raised will enable us to reach more students across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.”

A Mission to Teach and Share

Gills Onions is a long-time supporter of SEEAG’s agricultural education programming that has reached over 60,000 elementary school students since its founding in 2008. All SEEAG programs are 100 percent cost-free to schools and students.

“Teaching students about how food is grown and the benefits of eating locally-produced fruits and vegetables is one way to improve the health of our kids,” says Steve Gill, Gill’s Onions president and SEEAG board member. “Once kids learn about the farming and harvesting process and the benefits of fresh produce, they get excited about eating a more healthy diet.”

How You Can Help

All “Gill’s Onions Double Your Impact Challenge” matching donations go toward student learning:

Double Giving Levels:

  • $25 donation doubles to $50 – Print summer camp booklets for 100 students
  • $50 donation doubles to $100 – Pack farm-fresh resource bags for 200 students
  • $100 donation doubles to $200 – Send 200 students home with vegetable seedlings
  • $250 donation doubles to $500 – Fill up the SEEAG van for two weeks of summer camp travel
  • $500 donation doubles to $1,000 – Provide fresh snacks and materials for 800 students
  • $1,000 donation doubles to $2,000 – Covers the cost of six buses to bring students to Farm Lab

 For more information or to donate, visit www.seeag.org/doubleyourimpact.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

Farmers: The Pandemic’s Unsung Heroes

The COVID-19 pandemic has rocked world economies and impacted every aspect of our lives. The agriculture industry is no exception. And yet, despite unprecedented challenges, we did not — and could not — stop farming. 

At Gills Onions, we recognize and celebrate the sacrifices and contributions of our farmers and our employees. The farmers cultivating onions in the fields, the production team in our processing plants, the truck drivers that transport products, the accountants that make sure the paychecks arrive on time — these too often unsung heroes represent a segment of essential workers that make sure Americans have food to put on the table. 

Why Agriculture Is Essential 

Agriculture is one of the most essential industries in the world. Without it, humans couldn’t survive. And still, we often forget how important agriculture is and how massive an impact the farmers and workers in the agriculture industry have on our daily lives. 

It starts, of course, with the food we eat. Everything you purchase from the grocery store — fruits, vegetables, meat, tofu, spices — is readily available because a farmer gets up every day and does their job. You can take a short drive or walk to the store and get everything you need to make dinner tonight because a trucker transported those foods across thousands of miles to you. It’s so easy to get good food that it’s easy to forget the hard work behind it. 

But agriculture extends far past the foods you eat. Many of the clothes you wear, the carpets and rugs you walk on, the blankets on your bed, and even the bandages you use when you are injured originate with ag.

Agriculture is an essential part of the world economy. About 70% of people rely directly on some form of agriculture for their livelihood, and agriculture is the main source of income for many developing countries. Major exports like spices, sugar, rice, and coffee fuel international trade. 

Long story short, agriculture is about as essential as it gets. 

How COVID-19 Has Affected Ag 

The COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges for farmers all over the world and added to a series of already difficult years. Natural disasters and historically poor planting conditions put farm workers in a tight spot as they started down a global crisis unlike any we have seen this generation. 

With shut downs and closures in the commercial food sector and disruption in distribution and production, the balance of supply and demand became a rollercoaster ride. Some regions experienced short-term, localized shortages while others were left with excess supply and waste.

But farmers kept farming. Ag workers kept working. And everyone benefited from their sacrifices. With coronavirus still looming large, no one can predict what adaptations will be necessary in the months to come, but we know our industry will do what it takes to weather the storm. 

Thank You, Agriculture Heroes

At Gills Onions, our employees are the heart of our company. That’s why the health and safety of our employees is our top priority, now more than ever before. 

We are doing everything we can to take care of our employees so that we can continue to provide the best value-add onion products in the nation. We’re providing our workforce with personal protective equipment (PPE) and essential supplies while increasing social distancing. Every employee is entitled to get treatment and testing for COVID-19 without any risk of losing employment, and we provide up to 80 hours of compensation for COVID-related absences. 

What can you do to help? Start by supporting local ag. Consider joining a community farm co-op, visiting the farmer’s market, and shopping local whenever possible. Get take-out from the restaurants in your neighborhood. When you see an ag worker, say thank you. 

And, the next time you eat an onion, think of all of us here at Gills Onions. We’ll be thinking of you. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

The Power of Knowing Your Farmer

Behind every piece of food you eat — not to mention many of the clothes you wear, the carpets you walk on, and the bandages you use when you’re injured — is a farmer. Knowing the source of so many of the things we rely on every day and the food that keeps us alive is crucial to supporting the farmers that make it possible. Without them, we’d be in bad shape. 

In the spirit of #KnowYourFarmer, we’re here to share more about the farmers that make Gills Onions possible and encourage you to learn more about the farmers in your area that make life possible. 

Behind Every Food There Is a Farmer

Farmers and ranchers make us just 1.3% of the employed U.S. population. In 1960, the average U.S. farmer fed about 26 people. Today, that number has grown to 155 people. American farmers represent one of the most important — and often most forgotten — groups of workers in our country. Without them, we’d all starve. Our farmers need our support!

In order to keep up with America’s population growth, the Ag industry will need to grow more food in the next 50 years than in the past 10,000 years combined, and it needs to do it without depleting precious natural resources. 

That’s where terms like “conscious farming” and “regenerative agriculture” come into play. The connection from the soil to the plant to the farmer to your table is one giant circle. At Gills Onions, we know that healthy soil leads to healthy plants, and healthy soil benefits generations. That’s why we control every part of the growing process from seed to packaging. Our mission is to be fully aware of the impact our efforts as one of the largest fresh-cut processing plants in the world have on the environment. 

Over the years, Gills Onions has been able to reduce our usage of chemicals and minimize our impact on the air, land, water, and other energy resources that surround us. We do so through verified sustainable ag practices like:

  • Increasing plant yields per acre and decreasing the amount of land required for growing 
  • Innovative seed development that reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers
  • Integrated pest management 
  • Drip irrigation  

Additionally, Gills Onions is dedicated to our Zero Waste initiative. Over the past decade, we’ve developed strategies that have helped us move toward diverting 100% of our waste into productive outlets. Our company’s waste diversion reached 99.2% in 2018. 

Our Farmers: Steve and David Gill 

The story of Gills Onions begins with two brothers, Steve and David Gill. These fourth generation California farmers grew up on a small farm in King City, but they had big plans. 

Together they expanded the family business to more than 20,000 acres in the state of California. They partnered with other local growers to add an additional 10,000 acres of usable farmland to the operation. 

Steve and David personally developed our signature prescription for growing onions. Growing “The Gill Way” ensures that all of our produce is grown in the most environmentally conscious way and creates the industry’s most delicious and longest lasting onions. 

Today, Steve and David own dozens of agricultural companies ranging from western vegetable farming operations to vineyards and wineries. They are vertically integrated from their own seedling nursery, farming, harvesting, cooling, shipping, transportation, and fresh-cut produce as well as juice and plants.

Though they are some of the busiest people we know, our founders are intimately involved with daily farming operations and continue to lead Gills Onions as a family owned and operated company. The family is just a little bigger now. 

Our Commitment to You

Gills Onions is committed to providing you with the highest quality products and services in the industry. We’re also committed to taking care of the land we rely on so that it’s able to provide for future generations. We are proud to serve you!

We hope you’ll take a moment to support and get to know the farmers in your neck of the woods. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department

Get to Know Gills Onions

We always tell our customers, “We’re the onion experts. It’s what we do, and we do it best.” There are many reasons we can stand by that statement. 

Gills Onions has been family owned since 1983. We’ve grown a lot since then, but our values have remained the same. We’re dedicated to supplying the best and safest onions in the industry — from our family to yours. 

Our Farming Legacy 

Our story began with two brothers, Steve and David Gill, fourth generation California farmers who grew up on a small farm in King City. The Gill brothers were intimately involved in their family farming operation, but they had bigger plans. Together, Steve and David expanded the family farming business to more than 20,000 acres in California. They also partnered with other growers to add an additional 10,000 acres of usable farmland to the operation. 

Thanks to Steve and David’s dedication, our family farm values remain the same. We’re still family owned, and many of our employees have been with us since the beginning. There are even multiple generations of families working with us to create quality, delicious onions. This is the true legacy of farming that Gills Onions represents. 

Dedicated to Innovation, Conservation, and Sustainability  

Our passion has always been exploring new technologies and methods to maximize conservation and efficiency in all areas of our business. We want to be able to continue providing high quality products to our customers while preserving the fields for future generations. 

We believe healthy soil leads to healthy plants. So, we treat our soil with the utmost care. Healthy soil allows our growers to reduce their usage of chemicals. The resulting plants are also healthier and better able to withstand harsh weather, insects, and disease. 

Farming onions “The Gill Way” has reduced our growers’ use of nitrogen by more than 50% compared to other onion growing operations, helping preserve the environment and our precious resources. 

In 2009, Gills Onions made a goal to achieve zero waste in our processing, warehouse, and office facilities. We track all of our resource usage from the types of fuel we use to electricity and water. We also keep a detailed inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and report it yearly to The Climate Registry. 

Through the implementation of wide-range recycling programs and the expansion of waste reduction initiatives, our company’s waste diversion reached 99.2% in 2018. Gills Onions has also reduced water consumption by 40%. That means we conserve enough water each year to meet the annual needs of 2,900 households in our home state of California.  

By collaborating with innovators across the United States over several years, Gills Onions was able to develop the Advanced Energy Recovery System (AERS) which converts onion waste into ultra-clean, virtually emissions-free electricity. The AERS provides the equivalent of enough power to supply 460 homes for an entire year. It also eliminates 14,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year. 

We’ve been able to cut operational costs, increase efficiency, improve our resource management, and create greater energy independence as we pursue innovations in environmental sustainability. We want to lead the charge for effective policies and practices that benefit all stakeholders — our business, our farmers, our customers, and our earth. By demonstrating responsibility and leadership, we hope to encourage environmentally-friendly initiatives in our nation and in our industry. 

A Leader in Food Safety 

At Gills Onions, we are committed to setting the standard in food safety. That’s why we go above and beyond to protect the integrity of our product through every step of processing and shipment. In recent years, we’ve overhauled more than 32,000 square feet of our facilities to replace walls, ceilings, and floors with a continuous epoxy and fiberglass material. This eliminated the presence of even the smallest seams where water could collect and allow bacteria to grow and made it easier for our staff to clean and sanitize every inch of our plant. 

Our in-house laboratory oversees and verifies the cleanliness of both our product and our equipment. Every employee from the maintenance department to the production team receives food safety training. All of these practices allow us to guarantee that you are welcoming the safest possible food into your kitchen. 

The Gill Way

We said it once, and we’ll say it again: We know onions. It’s what we do, and we do it best. 

Gills Onions has grown over the years, but, at our heart, we haven’t changed. From the beginning, Steve and David Gill have had one goal in mind: quality. That quality is something you can see, smell, and, most importantly, taste. Our key to success has been to practice what we preach. Through our dedication to innovation, conservation, sustainability, and safety, Gills Onions remains a proud part of the legacy that is American farming. 

But don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves. 

Get Ready to Celebrate National Ag Week

Each of us is impacted by agriculture every day. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, and many of the products we use are all available because of Ag. But too many people are unaware of just how important this industry is. So, this year, Gills Onions invites all Americans to join us in celebrating National Ag Week, March 22–28, 2020. 

The Part We Play in American Agriculture

The most recent U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that there are 438,396 American men and women who work as farmers and ranchers. They represent the lifeblood of our industry, and they are working harder than ever. In 1960, the average U.S. farmer fed about 26 people. Today, that number has grown to 155 people. In order to keep up with America’s population growth, the Ag industry will need to grow more food in the next 50 years than in the past 10,000 years combined. That means that today’s growers need to produce twice as much food as all the farmers before them, and they have to do it without depleting precious natural resources. 

At Gills Onions, we operate one of the largest fresh-cut onion processing plants in the world, and we’re proud to lead the charge for agricultural conservation and innovation. We are increasing plant yields per acre and decreasing the amount of land required for growing. Our innovative seed development reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. We have embraced drip irrigation and integrated pest management while converting our onion waste into usable energy. Our most important mission — and the mission we share and celebrate with the rest of the agriculture industry — is delivering delicious and healthy foods to our fellow Americans. 

Meet Our Favorite Farmers

Steve and David Gill are the perfect definition of “boots on the ground” farmers. The entire Gill family represents a true legacy of farming, and, like so many other farmers, are an example of what makes Ag worth celebrating. 

Steve and David are fourth generation California farmers. They grew up on their father’s small farm in King City, California, and together they expanded the family farming operation to more than 20,000 acres with an additional 10,000 acres operated with other farming partners. From the very beginning, the Gill brothers have focused on one primary component in their farming: quality. They have become successful because they practice what they preach. 

Today, Steve and David own dozens of  agricultural companies ranging from western vegetable farming operations to vineyards and wineries. They are vertically integrated from their own seedling nursery, farming, harvesting, cooling, shipping, transportation, and fresh-cut produce as well as juice and plants. Our founders are intimately involved in daily farming operations. They continue to operate Gills Onions as a family owned and operated company, and we all feel like we are part of the family. 

Celebrate National Ag Week with Us

National Ag Week is the perfect time to celebrate all the things that make our company — and all of agriculture — so wonderful. At Gills Onions, we will be celebrating our employees who make everything we do possible. We’ll also be celebrating the communities that support us, use our products, and partner with us each day. 

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the power that comes from knowing where your food comes from. Raise awareness, and challenge others to become engaged and educated about the impacts of Ag. You might consider attending a local National Ag Week or National Ag Day (March 24, 2020) event. You can also share your thoughts on social media with the hashtag #AgWeek. Take time to check out an agriculture-themed podcast, vlog, or social influencer. 

However you choose to celebrate, thank you for supporting American agriculture!

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.

Join Gills Onions in Celebrating National FFA Week

The National Future Farmers of America (FFA) is the largest youth organization in the world. But don’t let the name fool you. FFA isn’t just for students who want to be farmers. While many FFA members do go on to enter careers connected with the agricultural industry, they also become doctors, teachers, scientists, and business owners. 

Every February, FFA chapters across our nation celebrate National FFA Week, “a time to share what FFA is and the impact it has on members every day.” 

We’re proud to take this opportunity to tell you more about Gills Onions’ personal connection to FFA and our joint commitment to developing future leaders through agricultural education. 

What FFA Is All About 

FFA is “an intracurricular student organization that prepares members for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.” Members live by the motto, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, and Living to Serve.” 

You’ll find local FFA chapters all over the United States. These chapters are chartered by public schools and overseen by a faculty advisor. Student officers are elected annually by the chapter members. 

Local chapters make up state associations which operate under the federally-chartered National FFA Organization. State associations host their own competitions and award programs. 

During their time in FFA, students can specialize in a variety of areas that relate to the agricultural industry and participate in Career and Leadership Development Events as well as a Supervised Agricultural Experience. These events cover topics like:

  • Agricultural Communications
  • Agricultural Sales 
  • Agronomy
  • Environmental & Natural Resources 
  • Public Speaking 
  • Floriculture 
  • Food Science & Technology 
  • Forestry 
  • Marketing Plans
  • Nursery/Landscape 
  • Veterinary Science 

In a nutshell, FFA brings communities together to work and learn about where their food comes from and the important impact agriculture makes in everyone’s lives. 

Launching Careers in Agriculture 

“I was born and raised in agriculture, but hands down, the only reason why I am working in agriculture today is because when I was in 8th grade, a high school Ag teacher came to my school to recruit for FFA,” Megan Jacobsen, Gills Onions’ VP of Sales & Marketing says. “When he started talking about the FFA creed and the words, ‘I believe in the future of agriculture,’ that was the introduction that set the path for the rest of my life.”

Each student in FFA participates in a Supervised Agricultural Experience, or SAE. For many students, that experience is showing an animal. But, her freshman year of high school, Megan chose Ag Communications, a combination of marketing, public relations, and advocating on behalf of agriculture. It became her major in college, and it’s what she does for Gills Onions today. 

“I wanted to be an advocate, and FFA introduced me to what it meant to be a true advocate for the industry,” Megan says. “The only reason I even thought to choose Ag Communications as a career was because it was my project in FFA.”

Megan is the perfect example of the lasting impact FFA can have on students’ lives. Kids from major metropolitan cities and kids from rural farming communities alike can work together and connect with the natural resources that surround them. 

FFA exposes students to all the intricacies of the agricultural  industry. It goes beyond just the food we eat. The clothes we wear, the flowers we buy on Valentine’s day, and even the landscaping we do in our front lawns all come back to agriculture. 

Supporting Our Local Chapters 

Gills Onions and our parent company, Rio Farms, are proud to support our local California FFA chapters. We believe that any FFA chapter’s success is dependent upon the involvement of the local Ag community. 

These chapters hold special significance to our company. The King City and Greenfield FFA chapters in the Salinas Valley are located where Steve and David Gill founded their first company, and the Santa Paula FFA is located near the Gills Onions processing facility in Oxnard. 

Our leadership and employees show up to auction days at local fairs. We assist on student projects, provide sponsorships, and volunteer at events. Our employees are involved with the chapters in their own hometowns as well.

“Many of these students have met Steve and David Gill,” Megan says. “Now, when they go to the store and see our logo, they have a connection with where that product really came from, and they might think to themselves, ‘Maybe I could work at a place like Gills Onions someday.’”

By simply being engaged, we know we can help develop future leaders in many industries, including agriculture. So, join us in celebrating National FFA Week by supporting your local chapter today!

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.