Gary Sakakihara

Owner/Grower Sakakihara Farms
“My parents began farming in the late 1930s in Sacramento, California. After being incarcerated in an internment camp during World War II, they established themselves in Watsonville, California and began growing strawberries in 1952. I recall as a youngster, my parents’ tireless work growing just five acres of berries and as the years went on, increasing acreage. They instilled in me that a college education is far more important than staying in farming, so I graduated with a finance degree and worked as an officer in the banking industry. There was still something missing, so I made the decision to return to my roots and work with my parents. I’ve been fortunate to have farmed for over 40 years.
Since 1952, the dynamics of operating the farm have changed dramatically. The days of furrow irrigation, wooden flumes, and gated pipes have changed to drip irrigation and solar sensors in the fields to detect water saturation. And yet, the strawberries still need to be hand-picked. We need 1.5 people per acre to harvest the fields. I have been fortunate to have so many employees still with me from the beginning. The greatest satisfaction moving from banking to farming is the life-long friendships I’ve made with employees, vendors, and all those in the strawberry industry. As a team, we all strive to produce the best tasting and quality berries for our consumer.”
“As a young child, my grandmother had a garden in our backyard and while she was cooking, she would ask me to go pick jalapenos, tomatoes, and squash. That garden made a big impression on me and my life. I believe that is where my passion for food and fellowship developed. On Sundays our family would gather at my grandparents’ home to eat and laugh. I believe that no matter what happens in life there is no better feeling than gathering around the dinner table with your family and friends.”