The Valov Family

Jimi Valov is a third-generation California farmer. His grandfather, Fred Agop Valov, immigrated to California from Eastern Europe in 1904, and began farming in the 1920s in Kern County, producing potatoes, hay and cotton. “While my grandfather farmed, he also served as a Russian minister in Shafter for 41 years. He helped people in his congregation get started in farming, buying a home or starting a business. That's what preachers did way back when," says Jimi.

In 1957, Jimi’s father, John Fred Valov, started farming cotton, wheat and other row crops in the Waukena area. Jimi says, "My father moved from Kern County to Tulare County because land prices were so much cheaper. In Kern County, land prices were $800 to $1,000 an acre.” In Tulare County, he said his father bought I,000 acres from the late Billy Boswell for $200 an acre.

Over 30 years ago, Jimi started farming in Kern County but later sold those ranches and bought land close to the city of Tulare. Following his Kern County experience in the early 1980s, he had a burning desire to farm almonds and pistachios in Tulare County; however, his father did not favor permanent crops. Frustrated, he waited until his father was on a trip to Japan, in 1983, and then he and his brother quickly planted the original 40 acres in pistachios. Today, the 33-year old trees are still producing big crops. His father eventually came around and wanted to plant more permanent crops. According to Jimi, “We planted his last 80 acres five days before he passed away in 2013, at the age of 87."

Today, Jimi is owner and managing partner of Valov & Sons Farming, with over 1,000 acres of pistachios and almonds and 500 acres of cotton and alfalfa in Tulare and Kings counties. All of his crops, he is proud to say, are irrigated with drip irrigation.

He is also very passionate about giving back to his Waukena community. An active leader and community volunteer in Tulare, in 2015, the Kiwanis Club of Tulare named him “Tulare Farmer of the Year.” The award is given based on community involvement and volunteerism. Jimi also serves on the Tulare Christian School Board of Trustees, and he is Chairman of the Board of American Pistachio Growers.

Valov is amazed that the pistachio market continues to be strong. “I’m just so thankful that I have had the opportunity to plant these permanent crops. However, growing pistachio trees is a very humbling experience," he said.”

The Valov Family

Jimi Valov and family.