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. 

The Root of Health: Why Roots Matter More Than You Think

You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. At Gills Onions, we like to take it a few steps farther. You are what you eat, and what you eat is what is in the soil, and what is in the soil are roots. 

We know what you’re thinking, “Are you really about to spend an entire article talking about roots?” You bet we are! Roots are one of the unsung heroes of health. Our health is connected to what we put in our bodies, and healthy food starts with healthy soil. The countless connections between soil and food are roots. 

So, let’s dig deeper into the wonderful world of roots hiding just beneath our feet.

Roots and Microbes Working Together

About 470 million years ago, soil microbes like fungi and plants formed what Chris Topp, an associate member at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center calls “an ancient alliance.” 

Plants were new to the scene, having just finished the migration to land from the water. The first thing the plants did was grow roots. Roots helped hold the plants in place and mined for the resources needed to keep each plant alive. Then, in biological terms, the plants teamed up with fungi to help get resources they couldn’t grab on their own. 

When a plant pulls carbon dioxide from the air, it converts it into sugars. The plant can then use the sugars to fuel growth in roots or leaves, or it can swap the sugars with microbes like fungi in exchange for some of its nitrogen or phosphorus. Other microbes taking part in the swap can include bacteria and even viruses. 

Thousands of tiny interconnected roots make the swap happen, reaching out and working together with microbes to find essential nutrients and water. Some of the microbes help exchange and assemble carbon — one of the most basic building blocks of soil. Others fix atmospheric nitrogen. Meanwhile, the roots excrete organic acids that control the soil pH and make delicious elements like phosphorus more readily available for the plant.

In short, roots rule the soil. They feed the plants and manage the microbes. 

What exactly does this crazy subterranean bartering system have to do with you? Everything. 

Healthy Soil, Healthy You 

Healthy roots are the key to healthy soil and healthy crops. Healthy crops are key to healthy people. And yet, most of us don’t go around chatting about roots every day. We probably should. 

Think about it. During the spring in Oklahoma, one acre of pasture has about 1,000 pounds of plant mass aboveground, but there are about 3,500 pounds of roots below the ground. Healthy roots can increase crop yields, reduce the need for fertilizers and chemical pesticides, and filter more carbon dioxide out of the air. Roots make better air, better food, and more of it. 

The Root of Our Commitment to Soil Health

At Gills Onions, we know the difference that healthy soil makes. Our onions are the best because our soil is the best, and our soil is the best because we care about our roots. 

Our farmers grow each onion “The Gill Way.” We take the time to understand the composition and microbiology of the soil and boost soil health with a balanced blend of macro- and micronutrients that work together to create a microbe-friendly environment. With healthy soil in place, our onions can grow larger, more aggressive root systems, creating healthier stalks and leaves. 

We also promote sustainable ag practices like regenerative farming, drip irrigation, and innovative seed development that reduces the need for pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. 

We’re passionate about caring for the environment and educating everyone around us about the importance and the beauty of where our food comes from. That’s why we wrote an entire article about roots. Roots matter, and it’s time we all got back to ours. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill 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.