The History of California’s Agriculture Business

By Phineas Upham

Agriculture is a huge producer for the state of California, and water management is crucial for the state as a result. The products grown there are consumed worldwide, and the industry employs well over 200,000 people. This seems baffling to those in the Midwest, but it’s no accident.

During the early 1900s, several investors were working on developing the San Diego area. One way to attract newcomers was to host a World’s Fair, but the city was always envisioned as an agricultural hub. There was one major factor working in its favor: San Diego harbor. This point was considered better for exports than Los Angeles, which spurred the development of a cotton industry in Southern California. That, in turn, fueled a need for greater modes of transportation.

Before California became known for Hollywood, it was a picturesque place where a middle-class man could settle down and work the land instead of the desk. It was quite appealing, to the point where agri-business began to dominate in the state.

Today, San Diego is a beach town. Back then, the soil was rich and the endless sunshine and ample land was perfect for growing. Irrigation was a problem then just as it is now, and so the region consisted of several small communes where farmers grew and shared crops with locals. This helped spur development of irrigation, which also affected the growth of agriculture.

Technology and machinery proved to be the turning point for California’s agriculture. Cheap housing in the form of bungalows made farm living seem modern and appealing, and the urban setting was marketed as dry and boring. Farm life in San Diego used to be an escape, today it is big business.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.