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Cultivating California

'Cultivating California' cover image

Cultivating California

Growers, Specialty Crops, and Labor, 1875-1920

In Cultivating California, David Vaught shows how fruit and nut growers were neither industrialists nor agrarians. From the very outset, he explains, these "horticulturists" saw themselves as guardians of California's unique culture–raising crops for market while self-consciously building healthy and prosperous communities. Every grower was not, in fact, like every other, Vaught argues, whether one examines their labor systems, recruiting methods, harvest needs, marketing strategies, farm size, or their relationships with their communities, unions, and the state. The hard work, foresight, and devotion to detail required to nurture an orchard or vineyard made them, they insisted, cultivators of a better society. Over time, however, labor relations, market imperatives, and changing political conditions undermined the growers' horticultural ideal.