Fourth Generation Of The Yasukochi Family Continues Farming In North County
Speaker 1: 00:00 Uh, north county farming, family of Japanese descent has overcome legal barriers, internment camps, and most recently the pandemic KPBS north county reported Tonya thorn tells us about the Jasu cocci family and how their farm has survived to this day, Speaker 2: 00:18 Donald yes, a coachee and his daughter, Brianne walked the farmland that once belonged to his parents and grandparents Speaker 3: 00:25 Corn, we have artichokes asparagus. We have, um, you know, brass berries, blueberry strawberry, Speaker 2: 00:32 The land that now grows a variety of fruits and vegetables has a rich history that began in Japan, Donald yes, a coachee, his grandparents were farmers in Japan before they decided to leave their farm behind and head to America. Speaker 3: 00:46 They came over, they weren't just welcomed with open arms, Speaker 2: 00:50 The California alien land law banned aliens ineligible for citizenship from owning land, but not everyone agreed what the law that worked against immigrants and generous American farmers gave the JASA coachees a chance. They were able to settle in Oceanside in 1924, where they began dehydrating chilies. Speaker 3: 01:09 Here's a picture of my grandfather. He is the one standing on the truck and these are the dry chilies. Uh, he was known as the king of the chilies, Speaker 2: 01:17 But everything they YesWeCode, she's built king to a halt after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Speaker 3: 01:23 Japanese face. And you had Japanese ancestry, even though you're American citizen, uh, they, they interned you. They put you in Speaker 2: 01:31 Jail. Yes. A coach whose grandparents were separated from each other, along with their children and sent to internment camps in New Mexico and Arizona, Speaker 3: 01:40 Japanese American families lost everything. And they had to come back when they were, at least they, they, uh, I think they gave him $25. Speaker 2: 01:48 When the JASA coachees returned to their farm, they were relieved to find that Mr. Gray, a generous Escondido school teacher had taken care of their land. Speaker 3: 01:57 Mother used to like run us out to Escondido and ocean didactic. And Dino is not 20 minutes. Like nowadays it was like two and a half hours in a back road. And it took forever to get out there. But we had to go see Mr. Gray. We had to take them our fresh corn. My mother was just like, always like, you know, Hey, you know what? We're giving back. We have to give back. Speaker 2: 02:20 Yes. The coach has expanded into Carlsbad and began growing and selling wholesale tomatoes. So my truckloads full of tomatoes in the late eighties, yes. The coachee family farms transitioned from wholesale to growing a variety of different fruits and vegetables to sell in farmer's markets. Now into the fourth generation of the ESSA cocci family, Brianne USAA coachee had to help the family farm overcome a new hurdle. The pandemic, when the Speaker 4: 02:44 Pandemic hit, you know, we were like, okay, the farmer's markets are closing down. You know, we might have to shut down because we don't have a viable source of income with Speaker 2: 02:54 Pallets of fresh produce. The USAA coaches had to get creative and decided to promote community supported agriculture boxes. The CSA boxes come stocked with fresh produce and are delivered for free. Speaker 3: 03:06 They saw it online on Facebook and well, I don't know what, what they do is to Graham and my daughter was doing it. And before you know it, the phone was ringing off the Speaker 2: 03:17 Hook at a time when stores were low on food, the CSA boxes went viral and the JASA coachees had to meet that demand. But the boxes didn't only help the yes of coachee farm stay in business. They also gave nearby farmers a chance to include their produce in the boxes we work, Speaker 4: 03:33 I would say with five to seven different farmers throughout the week, depending on the season and what they have. And so giving them a place to sell their produce while at the same time, giving the customers the connection of where the produce is coming from has been a win-win for everybody. Speaker 2: 03:52 The CSA boxes range from 25 to $35 and include free delivery anywhere in San Diego county, customers can also add locally grown flowers, olive oil and jams. Speaker 1: 04:04 Joining me is KPBS north county reporter Tonya thorn, Tonya, welcome, Speaker 5: 04:10 Happy to be here. Maureen, Speaker 1: 04:12 How many generations of the yes-no cocci family have been farming in the north county? Speaker 5: 04:17 We are now into their fourth generation, and it was really interesting to see how much their farm has changed with each generation that has managed the farm. And Speaker 1: 04:26 Is it the same land that their grandparents farmed in ocean side, in the 1920s, Speaker 5: 04:31 They do have their original house that their grandparents lived in and they do have the same land and they've acquired even more land. Now in Fallbrook Bonzul in Oceanside. You told Speaker 1: 04:42 Us that during world war II, the us who cocci family, along with tens of thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. Uh, what stories have come down to this generation about that time? Speaker 5: 04:56 You know, the story about them just being taken from one day to the next, from their farm and their everyday life is already a very interesting story. And a piece of history that has been passed down. Donald gets a coach. He told me his grandparents were separated. So not only were they taken from their farm, they were both separated. His grandfather was sent to New Mexico while his grandmother and mother were sent to Arizona. They really had no time to make plans for their farm. So they had no idea what they were going to return to, you know, and to their surprise, a generous Escondido school teacher, Mr. Gray took care of their land. And you can tell that the family is just forever grateful to him. And for his progressive way of thinking at that time, this Speaker 1: 05:38 Family would have every right to Harbor a sense of outrage over their treatment during the war. How have they processed that really dark time? Speaker 5: 05:49 Yeah. Every right. But I really think that they use that rage to succeed. They use their farming skills that they brought with from Japan and made a name for themselves in a business that now four generations later have been able to live off of. Speaker 1: 06:04 Right now, we're seeing an upsurge in hate crimes directed against Asian-Americans. Is this a reminder to the Yasukuni cocci family, about the bad old days of the war? Speaker 5: 06:15 I believe it is. You know, their family has a history of barriers, preventing them from succeeding over and over again. And COVID, and anti-Asian hate crimes are just one more thing to add, but they're, they're not going to let that break them down. And just like the generations before them, they figured out a way to survive and not only survived, but they were able to help fellow farmers sell their produce that would have otherwise gone, gone to waste. Speaker 1: 06:42 It seems that one hallmark of this family farm success has been its ability to change and to innovate. Tell us about how the farm has changed over the years. Speaker 5: 06:52 You know, their story is so representative of innovation as each generation has taken over the farm. They started the hydrating Chili's with a special machine, which was very innovative back in the day. Then they moved on to growing and selling wholesale tomatoes, becoming one of the biggest distributors in California. They moved on to diversifying their crops to a variety of fruits and vegetables and selling them at farmer's markets. You know, but the pandemic ultimately put a stop to the farmer's markets and here comes Brianne JASA. Cocci the youngest generation to take over the farm who use social media to promote the farm CSA boxes with free delivery. And this was at a time when grocery stores were low on food. So, you know, that just went viral. Speaker 1: 07:36 That was another big innovation that didn't go over immediately with the older generation on the farm. Tell us about that. Speaker 5: 07:45 It was the cutest thing, Maureen. I mean, Donald, you know, the Brianne's dad was very surprised that social media brought this much attention to their farm and the CSA boxes. And it's, it's really cool to see how now they're using social media to even further their business. You know, the dad, you see him on Facebook and he's making small videos, a tip of the week videos is what they're called and he shows you how to cook the vegetables that you get in your CSA boxes. So, you know, now they're using social media and it's just really cool to see how now they're using technology, you know, to better advance their business. Speaker 1: 08:22 Since the pandemic seems finally to be easing up, do the yes, the coachees and the other farmers involve plan to keep up the CSA boxes. Speaker 5: 08:32 Oh yes. The CSA boxes are definitely here to stay and their program has extended to all of San Diego county. They kept the free delivery. You get a box full of fresh organic and pesticide, free fruits and vegetables. And they let us get a little taste. And, oh my goodness, I definitely recommend everything was fresh and tasty. And we were watching it, you know, just get, go from the ground, our hands. So it was beautiful. And I think in the future, they do want to open up their farms to the public for some strawberry and blueberry picking. Speaker 1: 09:04 So filing this family, Tonya was right in line with the end of Asian Pacific American heritage month. How did their amazing story, how did it come to your attention? Speaker 5: 09:14 You know, it's not very often you find a family run farm, especially four generations deep with such a rich history. And, you know, as I do north county reporting our community forgets that Oceanside holds a large farming community and they also, coaches are one of the fields that have been here for almost a century. So it's, you know, they really stick out and they're very special. Speaker 1: 09:35 Well, thank you for bringing us this story. I've been speaking with KPBS north county reporter, Tanya thorn. Thanks, Tanya. Thank you. Speaker 6: 09:50 [inaudible].