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(Lecture) Uncovering the Incredible History of Contra Costa County’s Japanese American Farmers

Wednesday, May 29 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm


4/16 update: This lecture is SOLD OUT. To be put on the waitlist, please go here to fill out the waitlist form. If you have any questions or need help, contact alice@ruthbancroftgarden.org



Join us for a lecture about Japanese American farmers in California, the scale and scope of their contributions to Contra Costa’s agricultural economy, and the work of the Kansha History project to preserve this hard but important history.  This discussion will offer a window into the past and perhaps our future as we seek to rebuild a more sustainable food system.

Prior to World War II, Japanese American farmers (including those that worked on the Bancroft Farm) were important designers, planners, laborers, ecologists, and marketers who were essential to the creation of a flourishing statewide produce and flower economy. They were responsible for the development of thousands of small farms, including land that was considered untenable. Across California, they introduced sustainable farming practices that are now the foundation of the organic and regenerative farming movements. Because of Alien Land Laws and other discriminatory practices, the vast majority of farmers were not allowed to own land. After their incarceration, they had no home to return to and thousands of families lost their connection to the land and their rich farming tradition.

In Contra Costa county, hundreds of Japanese Americans managed farms ranging from 2 to 200 acres and raised crops from beans to walnuts. The losses of 86 of those farmers were documented by federal government field agents. A team of volunteers for Kansha History Project have transcribed those records, providing families with a searchable connection to their family history.  These are hard and important histories. These records show vast losses to innocent Japanese American farmers but they also show their enormous contributions to sustainable farming practices and perhaps a better food system for our future.


Program Schedule:

  • 5-5:30pm: Check-in and get refreshments
  • 5:30-6:30pm: 45 min lecture with 15 min Q&A
  • 6:30-7pm: Mingle and get refreshments

Please note that the Garden and Nursery will be closed during this event. Carpool encouraged. This lecture will be filmed.

Photos: Lily Miyamoto, Farm Transfer Record, War Relocation Authority, 1942, National Archives

Byron, California. Farmers of Japanese ancestry, evacuated from Contra Costa County, National Archives

This event was made possible with grants from the Food and Farm Communications Fund, Vesper Society, and California Humanities.


Tickets are not available as this event has passed.


Wednesday, May 29
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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The Ruth Bancroft Garden
(925) 944-9352
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