• Emily Pan

The Minami Story

Updated: Jul 16


Minami family (Image Source here)

Yaemon Minami:

  • 1880 - he is born in the village of Wakayama Japan

  • 1905 - he arrives in San Francisco after spending two months in Hawaii

  • Worked in Monterey before relocating to Guadalupe

  • Worked as a stoop laborer for the Union Sugar Company in Betteravia

  • Paid very little

  • Back breaking job

  • 1909 - with his sparse savings, he put together a plan

Yaemon's Plan:

  • 1909 - became a grower for the Sugar Company and furnished laborers for the company at the same time

  • 1916 - became an independent beet crop farmer by leasing 170 acres of land

  • 1917 - farmed 1200 acres of lettuce in the valley

  • known as one of the best in the business

  • 1925 - switched from growing sugar beets to planting vegetables

  • established Minami & Son Produce Company

  • Invested 100,000 yen and set up Minami and Yamada Trading Company

  • the primary office was located in Yokohama

  • 1940 - his business became known as "General Farms", making $3 million annually

Building a Family:

  • Yaemon had two sons

  • Isamu Minami

  • Yaemon put his land in Isamu's name because he was an American citizen, having been born in America in 1922

  • Yataro Minami

World War II:

  • On December 7, 1941, everything came to a halt after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor

  • Government officials picked up Yataro and Yaemon Minami at midnight

  • They went from detention camp to detention camp for five years, before staying in Santa Fe, New Mexico until the war ended

  • Meanwhile, 20 year old Isamu and his mother left Guadalupe a few months after the bombing

  • They relocated the Colorado

Post-War:

  • The family reunited in Colorado

  • They returned to Guadalupe and got back from the bank their 80 acres of property, which had been held in trust

  • They began farming again, except their farm's name was changed to "Security Farms".

  • 1949 was a profitable year

  • So the family expanded their farmland from 80 acres to 2000 acres

  • Became one of the largest farms in the valley

  • Also well known in the state of California

  • Concentrated on lettuce

Minami's Legacy:

  • Became a U.S. citizen in 1955

  • Generous contributor to many charities

  • Lived with his wife in Guadalupe for more than 50 years

  • Passed away in May of 1973

  • Lived to be 93 years old

  • More than 1500 people from all over the country came to celebrate his life

  • Known as the stoop laborer who rose to become "the lettuce king".

Works Cited

"Shirley Contreras: Yaemon Minami Persevered as 'the Lettuce King'.” Santa Maria Times, 12 Apr. 2020, santamariatimes.com/lifestyles/columnist/shirley_contreras/shirley-contreras-yaemon-minami-persevered-as-the-lettuce-king/article_9c7b6182-8e4f-5e27-b736-d1237017f881.html.

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