Friday, August 15, 2014

The Kitayama Story


This past week, Maya, Grace and I visited Bainbridge Island which is the “homestead” of the Kitayama Family.  We went to visit Auntie Yo and my cousins to show my girls where the Kitayamas came from.  For those who have never been to Bainbridge, you have to take a ferry out of Seattle across Puget Sound on a 30-minute ride.  Bainbridge was once a sleepy little island where the main industry was strawberries.  Today it is an expensive bedroom community for Seattle with incredible water scenery to match our Sunset Beach.  


Around the early 1920’s, Grandma and Grandpa Kitayama rented a greenhouse on the south part of Bainbridge Island to raised tomatoes, potted plants and 6 children.  It was there that the boys started their love of growing.  It was a tough life but they managed to support themselves until Dec 7 1941 and Pearl Harbor Day.   

Here is a photo of the farm today which the girls visited, it’s just a field.

And here is a photo when the family was there just prior to WWII.


On March 30 1942, Japanese Americans on Bainbridge were ordered by the US government to be ready for “relocation”.   They were the first group relocated in the USA because of the proximity to Bremerton Naval yards across the sound.   

The Kitayama family was part of this group which was marched onto a ferry to be taken away; not really knowing what their future held while being escorted by armed US soldiers.  They were taken by ferry, bus and train to Manzanar, a camp located in east California, not far from Death Valley. 


Maya, Grace and I visited the recently opened Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on the site of the ferry dock which took the Bainbridge Japanese Americans away.  

Just like most of my parent’s generation, we didn’t hear much about their experiences and they didn’t bear grudges. They dealt with the circumstances and went on to make huge contributions to their communities, industries and a good future for their families.


The message at the memorial is, Nidoto Nai Yoni, translated as "Let It Not Happen Again". 
The lesson I hope my girls learned from their grandfather, grand aunts and uncles...when bad things do happen, how you adapt is most important. 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sunset Beach Grown

American Grown: Maybe... CA Grown: Yes. 

Sunset Beach Grown: ABSOLUTELY!

This week’s blog is in reference to a new initiative by the California Cut Flower Commission to start an “American Grown” designation for American grown flowers.  I support CCFC and their “CA Grown” campaign has been a great campaign which Kitayama Brothers appreciates and takes advantage of.  We are examining the merits of an American Grown campaign and we don’t have enough information to have an opinion of its merit or potential.  However, I do have an opinion about Sunset Beach Grown flowers.  They are the best!!

I love America with our wacky government but I love California even more despite the regulations and water shortage.  I prefer Northern California over Southern California with our lack of movie stars and over-abundance of smug 20-something billionaires.  However, to pinpoint my very favorite place you have to come to Monterey Bay and find your way to Sunset Beach which is the best place to live and grow flowers on the planet.  I know I sometimes run counter to my friend Kasey’s ideas.  But instead of promoting all America, I want to promote the Sunset Beach “appellation” for the finest quality lilies, gerberas, lisianthus, snaps and gardenias.  Of course the Santa Maria, Carpinteria, Oxnard, Carlsbad areas are also nice, but for rich soil, amazing weather and nice people you can’t beat Sunset Beach.   
The local Santa Lucia Highlands and Santa Cruz Mountain appellations are producing very nice wine and getting recognized for their special attributes.  I just want to do the same for the Sunset Beach flower appellation.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

On the Table - Flowers & Wine

What is the future for Flower Farmers in the Watsonville/Salinas area? 

On July 18th, The California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) sponsored this dinner meeting to "rally the farmers," and help with the Commission's Strategic Direction.

CCFC opened the meeting with a list of programs designed to bring the California Farms to the forefront of the Flower Industry. 

Approximately 17 Flower Handlers representing 10 Flower Farms met at Kitayama Brothers Nursery to discuss the challenges we all face.  

Sharing dinner and conversation among competing farms brought out the bond that holds us together.  There was a consensus of opinion that People make the difference. "We need new blood and new ideas" to make our farms work. The discussions evolved into bringing our children into the business and show them the excitement that farming can give.  

One new Flower Farmer, in business for less than a year, summed it up..."I wish everyone could see our flowers, they would buy it!”

~ Dave (pictures by Tony)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Inside KB - Colorful Blooms

Wishing everyone a nice and safe July 4th! 
Don't forget to bring some Red, White and Blue flowers.

Gerbera Daisy - Happy Flower!

An array of vibrant and colorful colors grown right here in California by Kitayama Brothers!
        Ask your local florist or wholesaler for KB Flowers.

Snapdragon - Nice & Tall!

Our standard stem length is 36 inches!

~ Linda

Friday, June 27, 2014

Inside KB Series

On 6/21/2014, Kitayama Brothers opened our doors and shared our story with the public. 
KB annual open house is part of the Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House.
A benefit event to raised money for Friends of Santa Cruz State Parks.

A fun-filled day with lots of activities and of course, so many beautiful pictures 
that we've decided to run our open house blog as a series.

Welcome to KB - Part 1

Kitayama Brothers Inc. was established in 1948 by four brothers: Tom, Ray, Kee, and Ted.  Our greenhouse in Watsonville opened in 1970, and we grow cut flowers in 1.4 million square feet of temperature-controlled greenhouses and approximately 10 acres of field flowers.

KB Founders

KB Timeline - A History of Flowers & Family

Thank you everyone for your hard work before, during and after the open house.
And to all who attended our open house, we hope you left KB Farms 
delighted by our people, educated by our speakers, and inspired to ask for, 
"KB Flowers" 

~ Linda 


Friday, June 20, 2014

Save the Date - June 21

2014 Kitayama Brothers Open House
we are part of the 
Monterey Bay Greenhouse Growers Open House Event
Saturday, June 21 – 10am to 4pm

·         We like this event because it gives us a chance to open our doors to the public and share with people what we do. The Watsonville location has been here since 1970.

·         KB has been a family owned and operated company since 1948, that’s 66 years! There will be family members, shareholders and some employees helping out.

·         “The Company” as we all refer to it, was started by 4 brothers: Tom, Ted, Ray and Kee Kitayama, and was started in the San Francisco Bay Area in Union City. We also had locations in Brighton, Colorado and Watsonville, California. Watsonville is the only location still in operation.

·       Proceeds from all sales go to support “Friends of the Santa Cruz State Parks.” As the state struggles economically, we think it is important to keep our local parks open and safe.

Tour KB Greenhouses (Inside Look – Highlights)

·       Seeding area and Germination
·       Rotation and Sterilization
·       Snapdragons
·       Lilies
·       Lisianthus: aka Texas Bluebell
·       Gardenias
·       Gerbera Daisies: aka: Transvaal Daisy (South Africa)

~ Dave Kitayama