Nita Kurmins Gilson, Executive Director Programs & Outreach ProduceGood
The first thing you notice when you open a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box from Yasukochi Family Farms (besides the beauty of the produce) is the number of fruits and veggies included–between 16 and 18 items.
“This sets us apart from other CSAs in the area,” says Owner, Donal Yasukochi. But that isn’t the only thing that makes them special.
“The other unusual thing is that we are a family run farm. My great-grandfather emigrated to San Marcos from Japan in 1908, settling in San Luis Rey Valley (Oceanside) and started farming in 1928, growing chiles,” recalls Donal.
But just as their operation was becoming very successful, the attack on Pearl Harbor put a stop to everything. The Yasukochis were among the thousands of Japanese Americans that were pulled from their homes and sent to internment camps.
“If you had a Japanese face. If you had Japanese ancestry, even though you were an American citizen, they interned you. They put you in jail,” said Donal.
Yasukochi's grandparents were separated from each other along with their children and sent to internment camps in New Mexico and Arizona. A kind neighbor and schoolteacher had been watching over the farm, and they were able to resume the family business.
“My parents and grandparents had a lot of ‘gaman’, a Japanese word that means to endure with strength and dignity,” adds Donal.
Family is what sets the Yasukochi farm apart. And when the pandemic hit, and there was no outlet for their abundant harvests, daughter Brianne helped their existing CSA program grow from 300 subscribers to 3000. Donal says that every one of their customers is also considered family. With Brianne's help, Donal embraced technology and posts “Farmer Donal’s Tip of the Week” videos to help his followers cook the vegetables they get in their boxes.
“We start at 4am, boxes are packed by 8am and delivered the same day. We have three full time coordinators and many trucks. Whenever anybody buys a box, it helps us continue farming. The CSA program is what is keeping us in business.”
Each week, Yasukochi Family Farms donates some of their excess to ProduceGood, through both our Market Share and our Bumper Crop programs. This year alone, they have donated over 12,000 pounds of their incredible produce, some of which is transported to our partner agency, Brother Benno's, in Oceanside. Donal says they have had a long relationship with Brother Benno's, starting back when the farm overproduced tomatoes and Donal would bring the surplus to Brother Benno and he would make ketchup from it.
“Any time that we can donate to anyone, we feel good about it," adds Donal.
And ProduceGood feels good about partnering with Yasukochi and are so honored to complete the circle, reuniting these forces for good in Oceanside once again. Thank you, Yasukochi family!
If you are interested in getting farm fresh food delivered to your door, check out Yasukochi Family Farms.