Born in 1919, Hiroshi Shikuma was Nisei, meaning first generation Japanese-American. He and his family grew strawberries in the Pajaro Valley alongside other Japanese families. Because of birthright citizenship, he and his brothers played an important role in purchasing land for his father to farm. Nisei-owned land would benefit the larger community who would then supply the labor to farm it. Hirsoshi recalls, “at first there was an older Nisei who was born here who was able to rent or lease a parcel of ground; the whole group would farm it. When my brother became old enough, why then he was able to lease ground. That’s when we finally purchased our first property in Corralitos. It was under my brother’s name.” Like many Japanese-Americans and immigrants, he and his family were temporarily “relocated” to an internment camp during WWII. His family would become prominent independent local farmers. Hiroshi tells the history of his family’s immigration and early experiences in the Pajaro Valley.
© Regents of the University of California. Courtesy Special Collections, University Library, University of California Santa Cruz. Audio detail from the Regional History Project Collection, Strawberry Growing in the Pajaro Valley. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1725s351.
Regional History Project
Hiroshi Shikuma stands in his Watsonville strawberry field with S. Akiyoshi.
Regional History Project (1986)
The University of California’s Regional History Project documents the stories of Santa Cruzans since 1963. They continue with that work today. These stories not only document unique lives, but also tell a larger story about the life of agricultural and lumber laborers, business women, students, LGBTQIIA, and communities of color in Santa Cruz County. Listen to Santa Cruzans share their experiences in their own words. If you navigate to the MAH Do You Know My Name? virtual exhibit, you can further explore links to their stories and listen to the full interviews through the Regional History Project.
© Regents of the University of California. Courtesy Special Collections, University Library, University of California Santa Cruz. Regional History Project Collection. Retrieved from https://library.ucsc.edu/regional-history-project.