In the Beginning
Our farming connections go back to 1894 when Steve and Joe’s great-grandfather Angelo Danna emigrated to San Jose from his native Sicily. Upon arriving in the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight”, Angelo began working with his brother and uncle in orchards and as fruit brokers. In 1912 the Danna brothers purchased their first orchard—approximately 30 acres in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood—where they grew and packed cherries, peaches and apples for the fresh market, and prunes for the dried fruit market. Angelo, his wife, Antonina, sons Leonard (3 yrs.) and Dominic (11 months) settled there. It would be the “Home Ranch” for the next sixty years. Anthony, Peter, Frank, and Angelo R. Danna completed the family.
The Great Depression
After graduating from high school at the height of the Great Depression, Dominic, better known as D.F. or Doc, continued to work with his parents and brothers while branching out into packing and shipping fresh vegetables. In 1933 Doc and his cousin formed Danna & Danna. They packed and shipped cherries and other commodities to East Coast auction markets under the 42nd Street label. Doc came up with 42nd Street after hearing the music from the Broadway musical of the same name. This brand was used for over eighty years and was associated not only with the finest quality cherries, but also melons and assorted fresh vegetables.
Doc’s cousin left the business, but his younger brothers joined the burgeoning enterprise as they completed their schooling, and together they began growing and packing fresh vegetables, while continuing to help their parents manage the family orchard.
Expansion to Marysville
Diligence and hard work, coupled with a mutual goal, allowed them to expand and diversify their operation. In 1940 they started growing melons in Marysville, California, packing them in wood crates bearing 42nd Street and Saratoga labels. They added prune and cherry orchards in San Jose to the row crop acreage they farmed there. Later, they planted prune orchards in Marysville.
They took pride in their farms (orchards and fields were always clean and well cared for) and in their produce—they packed only top quality fruits and vegetables. The brothers embraced innovation, both in the orchards and fields, and in the packinghouses:
They were motivated to protect quality while shortening the time between harvest and consumer enjoyment. The Danna family developed an exceptional reputation for quality produce and exemplary business ethics with clients throughout the United States and Canada, some spanning three generations.
Growing, Hulling, Drying & Packing in Marysville
During the late 1960’s the Santa Clara Valley began its transition from the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” to “Silicon Valley”. Danna & Danna, Inc. acquired additional acreage in Marysville, expanding the operation to include prune dehydrators for their larger prune operation. They also planted English walnuts and eventually added a walnut huller and dryer.
Doc and his wife, Rose, built their home on the Willow Glen ranch and raised their children, Steve and Dee, there. Steve Danna, Sr.,(1942-2000), joined the company as a full-time employee upon graduating from Santa Clara University. He moved from San Jose to Yuba City with his wife and sons in 1976, working on the growing and packing aspects of the business. (In truth, growing up on the ranch, Steve Sr. would hurry home from elementary school for a chance to ride on a tractor or fiddle in the shop. His Dad, Granddad and uncles were delighted to have him on board.)
Family Legacy Continues
Steve Danna, Jr. joined the company full-time in 1992 after graduating from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in civil engineering and working in that field for several years. Joe Danna graduated from Cal Poly in Ag business and came aboard in 1993. Dee took on real estate and property issues in 1999, drawing from her experience in banking and commercial real estate finance and her MBA from SCU.
Senior management of Danna & Danna, Inc. remained in the hands of Doc and his brothers Tony, Pete, Frank and Angelo R. through the 1990’s; but by 2003, after the deaths of Tony, Frank, Steve Sr. and Pete, Doc, then 91, asked the Board of Directors to accept his resignation as President and Chairman. He nominated his grandson Steve to be President and CEO, and Angelo P. Danna, Pete’s older son, to be Chairman of the Board.
Doc remained involved in the business until his death in 2008 at age 97. After his death the remaining shareholders decided to downsize. In 2011 Danna Farms acquired a portion of Danna & Danna, Inc.’s holdings and became the primary farm operator and manager.
Innovative & Sustainable Farming practices
Since 2011 Danna Farms has renewed the process of building on the foundation laid by our parents and grandparents. Steve, Joe, and Dee continue to grow the business, providing quality products and excellent customer service.
In addition to growing and processing Danna Farms’ products, we also provide custom harvest and processing services to other landowners in the vicinity. Danna Farms is continuously pursuing opportunities and new, innovative and sustainable farming practices that will facilitate expanding our business, enabling us to continue our family legacy.