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Steven Silva has worked farmers markets since age 6
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Steven Silva fills a corn order at Ripon’s Farmers’ Market. The recent high school grad has been working farmers markets throughout the valley and in the Bay Area since the young age of six, learning early on to count back change and to drive a forklift. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Two recent high school grads clearly demonstrate a passion for community through a unique work ethic as they busy themselves weekly in the DePalma Farms booth at both the farmers markets at Manteca and Ripon.

Both are very personable with customers who come up to their booth for an unexpected salesmanship greeting with the boys selling countless bags of peaches and ears of corn for as little as  six for a dollar.

Steven Silva and Brandon Williams are both college-bound and have no doubt what they want to do in life.  For Silva there’s no question that he will get an ag/business degree from Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo.   He has worked for the family at farmers’ markets in the Central Valley and in the Bay area since he was six years old starting at the Salida market.  At 10 he started working the markets in Manteca and in San Francisco.

Williams and Silva have been friends all through high school and as football teammates.  They work as a team stocking the Ripon booth and selling peaches and plums to their customers in the heart of downtown Ripon on Thursday afternoons and a Library Park in downtown Manteca on Tuesdays.  Williams said he has wanted to go into either fire science or police service for as long as he can remember. He wants to have a role in helping the people of the community.

The next stop for both boys is Modesto Junior College where they will take care of their basic general education courses these next couple of years. It was just two years ago that Steve got his friend Brandon a job at the family business.  This past year Brandon was one wrestling match away from a State Championship.

Steven credits his Aunt Tilda DePalma for being his mentor on the farm as well as in working the farmers’ markets.  A teen that is sharp at counting back a customer’s change, he credits his aunt for pushing him in learning that trick.    

“She told me if I was going to work as a cashier, I would have to learn how to do it – I wanted to be a cashier so bad,” he quipped.  He added that it’s fun when you are young to handle the money and to drive something like a forklift.

By the age of eight, Steve was driving the forklift on the ranch.  He remembers one day when he was showing off for the son of the ranch foreman, backing the forklift up too fast and running into his uncle’s vehicle – he was in big trouble – an incident he will never forget.

In addition to the mentoring of his aunt, Steve credits his high school football coach Mark Louiero with his development into being a productive teen.  

“I got to be part of his 2000 team,” Steve proudly recalled.  Louiero is the coach at Escalon High with the most wins for any high school coach in California, he added.  

Silva said he would be “gray shirting” his freshman year at Modesto Junior College in the fall so he could concentrate and get his general education classes out of the way.  He does plan to go out for football in earnest the following year before going on to Cal Poly.

The DePalma Farms located on Highway 120 near French Camp Road was started by Silva’s great grandfather Dominic DePalma and his wife Apalonia who moved to the valley from Italy.  Descending family members have carried forward with the successful family farming operation to this day.