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Farming in Torrance and the South Bay, California (Images of America Series)
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Farming in Torrance and the South Bay, California (Images of America Series)

5.0 2
by Judith Gerber
 

Jared Sydney Torrance originally founded Torrance in 1912 as an industrial city. But the land and its surrounding South Bay region thrived through agricultural activities, beginning in 1784 on the Rancho San Pedro. Farming activities continued after Ben Weston became the first one to buy land from the Dominguez family’s rancho in 1847. Farming remained an

Overview


Jared Sydney Torrance originally founded Torrance in 1912 as an industrial city. But the land and its surrounding South Bay region thrived through agricultural activities, beginning in 1784 on the Rancho San Pedro. Farming activities continued after Ben Weston became the first one to buy land from the Dominguez family’s rancho in 1847. Farming remained an important part of city commerce in the transition to a thriving Los Angeles County suburb in the late 1950s. Throughout those early years, family farmers contributed to the city’s economy by raising cattle, pigs, and turkeys, as well as sugar beets, alfalfa, beans, hay, oats, barley, and flowers, and operating dairy farms. Other South Bay cities also relied on agriculture for economic growth, including Carson, once home to a thriving cut-flower farm industry, and Gardena, the one-time berry capital of Southern California, as well as the Palos Verdes Peninsula, where dry farming was a successful industry.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Publication: Los Angeles Times

Article Title: ‘Farming in Torrance and the South Bay’: A look back at L.A.’s farm belt

Author: Russ Parsons

Date: 11/12/2008

You would hardly know it today, when South Bay towns like Torrance and Gardena seem composed of little but suburbs and strip malls, but it wasn't so long ago that this broad, flat plain included some of the choicest agricultural land in California.

Beginning in the 1880s (even before if you count the cattle-running ranchos) and continuing until as recently as the 1950s, there were thriving farms producing strawberries, beans, sugar beets and dairy cattle, among many others.

Torrance author Judith Gerber beautifully captures this history in her new book "Farming in Torrance and the South Bay," part of the wildly popular "Images of America" series run by Arcadia Publishing.

Mining collections of historical photographs at local libraries and museums as well as from the personal stashes of many family members, Gerber has come up with a trove that vividly illustrates the wealth of the area's farms.

Like the rest of the Arcadia books, this one is heavy on photographs -– most of them snapshots, really -– and a little light on text. Most of the information is conveyed in captions. But it makes for a fascinating couple of hours nonetheless.

There's Benjamin Stone Weston, who in 1847 paid the Sepulveda family $525 for 3,000 acres of the old Rancho San Pedro and farmed most of the land between San Pedro and Redondo Beach. And there's Harry Phillips, who worked for the Bixby family before farming on his own -- a tradition his family continued for several generations.

And did you know that the "pony-pack," those light plastic packages that look like ice cube trays containing several different plants, were invented by South Bay grower Bill Mertz?

Full credit is paid to the area's Japanese farmers as well -– the Ishibashis, Takahashis, Ihoris and others who were such a vital part of the area's farm economy. (Ever wonder why there is such a thriving Japanese community along the south end of Western Avenue? It's not just the car companies.)

Judith Gerber’s "Farming in Torrance and the South Bay" is available on Amazon.com and from Arcadia Publishing as well as from many local bookstores.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738559308
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
09/03/2008
Series:
Images of America Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,385,793
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 10.92(h) x 0.38(d)

Meet the Author


Author Judith Gerber, a Torrance native, writes about California farms and is dedicated to preserving the rich history of the state’s family farmers. She collected the rare photographs for this book from local historical societies, archives, and private collections, including the Torrance Historical Society, California State University, Dominguez Hills, and the Palos Verdes Library District.

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Farming in Torrance and the South Bay, California (Images of America Series) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is wonderful!