Campus: CSU Fullerton -- May 18, 2005
Gift Honors Memory of Longtime Strawberry Growers and
Creates Legacy to Benefit Fullerton Arboretum
When it comes to fresh produce in Southern California, strawberry season is,
arguably, one of the most anticipated times of the year. For more than three
decades, second-generation Japanese-Americans - or Nisei - Tom and Chiz Miyawaki
contributed to this annual bounty as farmers and managers in the strawberry
Among the beneficiaries of their hard work are Chiz's brothers Tom and Frank
Matsuoka of Culver City and Kingsburg, respectively, and nephew Kurtis Nakagawa
of Placentia. In tribute to and in honor of the couple's memory, Nakagawa and his
uncles established the Tom and Chiz Miyawaki Legacy Project with a $15,000 gift
to the university's Center for Oral and Public History (COPH).
Aimed at promoting the COPH and the Fullerton Arboretum's Orange County
Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum - currently under construction - the
donation, explains Nakagawa, is "to give students the opportunity to be authors,
to benefit the university and to educate the public at large about the
Japanese-American contributions to Orange County."
A third of the gift was set aside for a scholarship, for awarding to authors of
a student-written publication related to the dual themes of Orange County agricultural
history and Japanese-American heritage. History graduate students Scott Behen of
Long Beach, Susan Brewer of Newport Beach and Susan Shoho of Placentia teamed up
for the winning submission, tentatively titled "They Worked the Land: a History
of Immigrants and Farmers in Orange County."
According to the trio, "They Worked the Land" will be divided into three general
themes. The first chronicles the lives of the first Japanese-American immigrants
up through the beginning of World War II, including such topics as how the original
wine region of California became the home of orange groves, the effects of U.S.
immigration policy and laws on the new immigrants, and the evolving conflict
between Japanese-American farmers and organizations like the American Federation
of Labor. The second and third parts are dedicated to World War II, with the
emphasis on such issues as Japanese-American detention, military service,
resistance, resettlement and emigration back to Japan at war's conclusion; and
post-war changes in Orange County, its residents and work force, including an
oral history with the secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture,
A.G. Kawamura, who, with his brother, oversees their family farming business in
The remaining $10,000 will be used to publish the book - scheduled for completion
in October 2006 - which will be sold in the museum. All proceeds from the book's
sales will benefit the arboretum.
As part of the Fullerton Arboretum's new visitor center, scheduled for completion
in the fall, the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum will
spotlight the rich agricultural legacy of Orange County and the Japanese-American
community's contributions to that chronicle.
Michael Paul Wong, College of Humanities and
(714) 278-2969 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Gail Matsunaga, Public Affairs
(714) 278-4851 or