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Saints pick grapes, bless lives

An estimated 10,000 Mormons converged on the LDS Church's Fresno Vineyard this August to do more than just pick grapes. They came together in a common purpose to bless the lives of other people.

"This is sacred work," said President Jeff Boswell of the Fresno California West Stake. "People realize that they don't come to the vineyard to make raisins, they come to the vineyard to bless Heavenly Father's children."

Located in Madera, Calif., the 80-acre vineyard attracts Latter-day Saints from eight central California stakes each summer as members from Herced, Hanford, Visalia, Porterville and four Fresno stakes come to pick. They gather en masse, sometimes parking as far as 2.5 miles away.

In fact, volunteer rates at the vineyard are so high that vineyard managers determined this year to split the harvest into two weekends to manage parking and crowds.

Volunteers complete their rows — about an average of six per ward — and then move to other rows.

It sounds amazing that 10,000 people would give that much time for grapes, but Boswell says its not.

Working on the vineyard has just been a way of life in Fresno for almost five decades, he explained. His family, for example, has been serving at the site for three generations.

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This story is provided by the LDS Church News, an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is produced weekly by the Deseret News.