(Oct. 25) In 1905, Antone Ratto Sr., son of Italian immigrants, began growing vegetables on Bay Farm Island, near Oakland, Calif., and personally delivering the goods from a horse-drawn cart.

More than a century later, the Modesto, Calif.-based Ratto Bros. — a continuation of Antone’s business founded in 1957 by his five sons — will be honored for its contribution to and reputation in the produce industry. The firm is being inducted as this year’s Legends of Agriculture on Nov. 30 at the ninth annual Ag Hall of Fame dinner at The Seasons in Modesto, Calif.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized, with a very prestigious group of honorees,” said Frank Ratto, one of four nephews now running the company. “It’s very humbling to be included.”

When considering recipients, the board of directors from the Ag Science Center, Modesto, review the nominees’ distinction nationwide and how they have influenced the industry, including changes, improvements and innovative actions. Former recipients include Ernest and Julio Gallo. The board believes the Ratto Bros. belong in that elite category, said Michele Laverty, executive director of the Ag Science Center.

“Here in the Central Valley, you can drive for miles and see basic row crops,” Laverty said. “But to go to the Ratto’s fields and see the diversity of what they grow, they’re really one of a kind.”

The Ratto Bros. grow more than 1,000 acres greens, lettuce, herbs, cherry tomatoes and watermelon. By using progressive farming practices and up-to-date cold-chain market technology, the family company has earned a name in the industry for its tradition and quality products, Laverty said.