92-year old Otow Orchard in Granite Bay has a history of embracing change. The ranch was purchased by young Japanese immigrants Kitchitaro & Momi Kawano – seeking to change their lives for the better by becoming farmers half a world away in Northern California. World War II brought more change when the family was forced into internment at Tule Lake. After the war, daughter Helen and husband Seiichi Otow returned to farm and raised a family on the ranch. What they found was a much neglected orchard neither capable of bearing fruits nor profits. Helen’s husband worked 2 jobs for the next three years as the couple and Helen’s mother, the family matriarch, nursed the trees and ranch back to health.
As the Otows continued to experience the usual ups and downs that come with farming, the family kept changing with the business. The revival of the ancient art of hoshigaki — a drying process — is how they conquered slumping persimmon sales, offering a larger variety of fruits and vegetables is how they responded to changing consumer tastes, and opening their own produce stand is how they’ve enabled themselves to directly market to consumers. Today, the second, third and fourth generations with a fifth generation playing nearby…still work the land and have changed their mission statement to include feeding the hungry in their community from the bounty of their harvests.
California Heartland’s John Alston meets second generation, 92-year-old family matriarch, Helen Otow who has lived her entire life on the orchard. Meet the whole Otow family, generation after generation and what they’re doing on the farm today.
6232 Eureka Road
Granite Bay, CA 95746
Tue-Sat, 9 am to 6 pm
Sun, 10 am to 5 pm
rest of Episode 921