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The last Japanese American farm on the Peninsula will no longer turn a profit, but that’s by design – Press Telegram

Hatano Farm, the last vestige of Japanese-American farms that were prominent on the Peninsula before World War II, could soon become a native plant farm, and Rancho Palos Verdes could achieve historic land status.

RPV City Council voted this week to begin discussions with the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservation to take over the operations of Hatano Farm, which is currently a commercial operation led by its veteran foreman.

The conversion to a non-profit native plant would help RPV meet the Federal Lands to Parks program requirement that the city’s surface be used for passive recreation and ensure the city retains its property rights. The city has been unfulfilled for decades.

So instead of the sunflowers and cacti that are grown and sold there now, the 5.5-acre property overlooking the sea would be home to varieties like California golden poppy, stream lupine and dairy. These native plants would be distributed in city properties and parks and areas prone to forest fires.

The city, said Councilor Eric Alegría, is fortunate to have a partner like the Conservatory.

“I think they bring knowledge,” he said at this week’s board meeting, “to the work that will help us really find out what the best combination of native species is in that particular area.”

The city is also in the process of seeking local, state and federal historical denominations for Hatano Farm, the last Japanese-American farm on the Peninsula. Such designations could include inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and the California Register of Historic Resources, as well as inclusion as a California Historic Landmark.

However, due to the complexities of applying for historic status, the city plans to hire a consultant to assist in the appointment process, city deputy director Karina Bañales said at the council meeting on Tuesday, June 7th.

The city needs to be aware of the farm’s legacy, Mayor David Bradley said, and needs to make sure it retains an educational component to teach students the history of the Peninsula and South Bay.

RPV and City Council staff also expressed concern about the future of Martín Martínez, a farm foreman who has been working there for four decades, starting when he was a teenager. He will be evicted when his lease expires on August 16.

The Peninsula Conservation has shown interest in hiring Martinez as a contractor or employee to oversee the operation of the native plant farm. But according to city staff, Martinez’s availability could be limited in the future as he is currently farming on a farm in Fillmore, in the Bay Area.

“PVPLC assured me and Martinez,” Bañales said, “that, depending on their needs, they will be more than willing to work with their availability.”

Martinez could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

When Martinez began working on the farm, James Hatano had been in the Peninsula for decades, in the early 1950s, and began running his own farm. He did so until his retirement in 2014.

Japanese American farms prevailed on the Palos Verdes peninsula for decades prior to World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Many of these farms were decimated when the Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps.

The U.S. Army was the original owner of the farm, as it was located on the former federal Nike LA-55 missile site.

When the site came under city control thanks to a federal program aimed at reducing property surpluses, Hatano reached an agreement with RPV. That lasted from 1974 to 1979. The lease expired but nothing happened for decades.

In 1993, Hatano and the city entered into an informal agreement, and in March 2001, a formal lease was signed that charged him $ 100 in annual rent.

But because Hatano and later Martinez ran the farm as a for-profit business, the city did not comply with the Federal Lands to Parks program. The program had given the city the former missile site, but also required that what is now Hatano Farm be used as parks and recreational purposes, not as a commercial operation.

This led to Martinez being evicted. If the city does not comply with the federal government, the land could be reclaimed, according to the National Park Service.

The last Japanese American farm on the Peninsula will no longer turn a profit, but that’s by design – Press Telegram Source link The last Japanese American farm on the Peninsula will no longer turn a profit, but that’s by design – Press Telegram

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