Bella Viva Orchards in the Community: An Interview with Angela Martino
Question: ‘Bella Viva’ in Italian (loosely) translates to ‘Beautiful Life,’ why does that phrase have meaning and purpose?
The Bella Viva Orchard’s (BVO) name has two significant meanings; first, it emerged from our two daughters’ names, and second, ‘beautiful life’ encapsulates the mission of our company overall. Our mission at Bella Viva Orchards is to enhance and make beautiful the lives of all whom we serve, which includes our employees, our customers, our vendors, and our community.
Question: The notion of ‘giving’ was incorporated as a founding principle in Bella Viva Orchards’ early stage. Why was that important to you and your husband Victor when you first started Bella Viva Orchards?
We are motivated to help others thrive, and we do so by supporting our community and giving to those in need. That commitment comes naturally, both on a personal and business level. Since giving back is a significant part of who we are as Christians, we believe that giving to those in need was essential to our company’s founding principles. Giving is just part of our DNA. Through the years, our motivation to persevere through difficult times has been sustained because we know, in a small way, we have elevated others going through challenging times of their own. We hope to empower others through inspiration and education. To us, empowering others is more than just giving away a product or providing a monetary donation. For example, we participate in school visits and talk about Agribusiness, where we encourage students to consider an entrepreneurial approach to their career. Also, we encourage and welcome students to ask questions about the BVO Drying operation and who we have become as an agribusiness corporation. Together, Victor and I share the Bella Viva Orchards story and our personal mission we help others, connecting all our lessons learned with our passion and commitment to producing dried fruit, which brings healthy nutrition to everyone.
Question: What organizations does Bella Viva Orchards support?
Over the past three decades, domestically we have aligned with 60 or more like-minded organizations in our local community. Many of the requests are renewed each year, and some are one time asks. For example, one organization near and dear to our hearts is “Jessica’s House”, a family service agency that provides grief support for children, teens, young adults, and their families. As a volunteer for Jessica’s House, I have experienced firsthand its role in helping young children express their grief and sorrow. Through our work with Jessica’s House, we have found an abundance of joy. We have witnessed the positive transformation that occurs when these children can see light again as they emerge from a sad and dark period in their life. This is the essence, in our minds, of helping others live a more beautiful life.
Question: It sounds like Bella Viva Orchards does more than provide monetary donations. What takes place behind the scenes with your dried fruit product donations?
At Bella Viva Orchards, we believe that to elevate a person, one must and can satisfy some of their nutritional requirements through delicious, dried fruits. Bella Viva Orchard’s products truly delight the senses as well as provide concentrated and much-needed nutrition. Our goal is to give hope and enhance people’s lives through our bounty – the fruits of our labor. On an international scale, for the past three decades, BVO has partnered with “Gleanings for the Hungry”. A non-profit, faith-based global organization. ‘Gleanings’ purpose and mission is to feed the needy of the world, both physically and spiritually. Since 2011, BVO have donated 122,290,161 grams of fruit, which equates to 3,057,254 servings of dried fruit. Our ongoing partnership with Gleanings affords Bella Viva Orchards this donation opportunity throughout the world. Our two organizations have been able to scale together and grow synergistically over the past 30 years. It brings us tremendous happiness to know that we are feeding people on distant continents from our little pocket of the world in Central California.
Question: Bella Viva Orchards has also provided support for troops overseas. How has Bella Viva Orchards shown its support for the United States Armed Forces?
Bella Viva Orchards received a request called “Support the Troops Campaign” in Afghanistan, and as you can imagine, we were honored and eager to help. Since our dried fruit is non-perishable, we could send several pallets of our most favorite product to Afghanistan without a problem. We even put prayers and uplifting Bible verses on each fruit package to provide encouragement and to show signs of our appreciation for their wartime service. When the soldiers received our fruit, they were very touched by our donation. They sent a dedicated American Flag along with several meaningful notes of gratitude and official certificates as an acknowledgment of their appreciation. This was a very meaningful way for Bella Viva Orchards to give back to our country in a time of need.
Question: Lastly, Bella Viva Orchards is very committed to providing a beautiful life to its employees. What does that mean for the people who work at Bella Viva Orchards?
Our main goal is for our employees to thrive as they use their talents and initiative to propagate our BVO mission and purpose. When we first started Bella Viva Orchards, we had a small team of four, that included me, Victor, and two other employees. Together, we completed every single job within our company. We learned quickly that the fruit drying process requires physical work that is strenuous on one’s body. There is not a task in our production facility that either Victor or I have not done ourselves. We can say without question what skill is needed to get the job done safely and efficiently. That is why it is vital to provide a safe, clean, and welcoming environment for our employees because I know what it takes to be out working on the production line on a hot summer day! Our industry is in a constant state of change due to various California state and U.S. federal regulatory requirements involved with running a food production corporation in 2020. Our hard-working and dedicated employees are a priority as we pursue innovation and success. With this success, we can continue to provide satisfying employment while meeting all mandated food and employee safety requirements. At BVO, we have a family atmosphere in which turn-over is rare. Several employees have been with the company for 20 years or more and they in turn, have watched our children grow up around the business. Every employee as part of our team, is empowered to internalize their value to BVO and to understand their integral contribution in advancing our corporate mission and purpose. We extend thanks with ongoing programs, such as, our quarterly employee appreciation lunches and our safety incentive lunches. As leaders at BVO, we believe that staying acquainted with each employee is essential in appreciating them. Our BVO lunches allow time for conversations surrounding our corporate purpose and core values. We communicate our corporate priorities of safety, efficiency, and corporate pride as we share a meal together. We believe that much good can result when we simply sit down and break bread together. We hope and strive to make Bella Viva Orchards a great place to work. We are grateful for all our vendors, employees, customers around the world.