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The Perricone Family

April 20, 2021

Honoring a Citrus Legacy

Sam Perricone began his produce empire in 1935 as a teenager, when he got his start picking lemons in the citrus groves of the San Fernando Valley to support his family after his father died. When Sam died in 2011 at the age of 91, he left behind a legacy that included scores of agricultural businesses and thousands of acres of avocado, citrus, and nut groves from Arizona to California’s Central Valley. Today, Perricone Farms is still owned and operated by the Perricone family.

Recently, the Perricone family honored Sam’s legacy with a bargain sale of Pauma Mountain Ranch to American Farmland Trust so the land can be permanently protected. Known in the area as Sam’s Mountain Ranch, the 454-acre avocado and citrus grove—in a San Diego County region significant for farming and Indigenous heritage—will be sold subject to an agricultural conservation easement that keeps the land in farming.

Saving the mountain ranch is a fitting tribute to Sam’s legacy, says Sammy, who works in the family citrus business with his brothers Mike and Jason, their parents, and several nieces and nephews.

“My grandfather’s big thing was that if you respect the land, the land will take care of you,” Sammy says. “He was a quiet guy, and his form of verbal teaching was just wanting to be on the land whenever possible as a family. There was nothing better than that. We learned to love agriculture through the way that we ate, whether it was digging for clams at the ocean or pulling fruit off the tree.”

Giving a family farm or ranch to the Farm Legacy Program ensures the land’s long-term protection and availability for farming while supporting American Farmland Trust’s mission. To learn more, please contact Jerry Cosgrove, Farm Legacy Director, at (518) 281-5074 or jcosgrove@farmland.org.