Norcal Nursery, Inc.
Norcal Nursery Inc. is a family owned business spanning four generations with over 85 years of experience in the small fruit industry. Headquartered in Red Bluff, California, we we are dedicated to producing quality products that consistently meet or exceed our customers expectations. We produce over two hundred million strawberry plants annually for domestic and international sales. In addition, we provide: Nursery plants that produce quality fruit with competitive yields. Certified raspberry and tissue cultured caneberry plants.
Headquartered in Red Bluff, California, Norcal Nursery, Inc. is a state certified nursery program. We produce over one hundred fifty million strawberry plants annually for domestic and international sales as well as raspberry and tissue cultured blackberry plants. In addition, we provide:
The Sakuma family business history began with our first generation arriving in the United States of America as Japanese immigrants, pursuing the “American Dream”. The first generation (Iisei) settled on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
By the end of 1941, there were four brothers living in Burlington, farming to support the remainder of the family who still lived on Bainbridge Island. Following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, all Japanese-Americans were evacuated from the West Coast. The Sakuma’s on Bainbridge Island were among the first to be evacuated to Manzanar, California. The Sakuma’s in Burlington were evacuated to Tulelake, California. Six of the eight brothers served in the U.S. Army, and following WWII, the family returned to their property in Burlington to farm.
Strawberries remained their crop of choice and in 1948 they entered into the certified strawberry plant business. The farm centered around the family and Sakuma Brothers Farms partnership was formed by six of the brothers, Atsusa, Akira, Shinobu, Milton, Isaac, and Saturo. Strawberry production grew to 500 acres by 1970 becoming the largest strawberry farm in Skagit County.
In 1961, Sakuma Bros. Farms, Inc. was formed and they expanded their land base to Shasta County, California, where they explored the expansion of the certified strawberry plant business. Following six years of transition farming in California, the family started Norcal Nursery, Inc. in Redding and Red Bluff, California. Over time, they moved the entire strawberry nursery business to California. Between 1967 and 1970, two brothers moved to California to run the nursery operations. Currently, Norcal farms 1500 acres and maintains 500 acres of certified nursery stock. Production areas are spread geographically from Macdoel in the north, Turlock to the south, west to Red Bluff, and east to Susanville.
1972 marked the introduction of raspberry production to the Washington farm. Blueberries followed in 1973 with four blueberry varieties planted in a 3 acre test plot. During the mid 1970’s, a raspberry nursery was also added to the Washington farm.
1977 was the first year a third generation (Sansei) Sakuma, Richard, returned to the farm on a full time basis. He would be joined by five others over the next twenty years. Ron and John work in California and Steve, Richard, Bryan and Glenn are in Washington. In 1984, the eldest of the six original second generation brothers passed away, and two years later two others retired. Another brother retired in 1990, and subsequently passed away in 1998. Early in 1999, the last brother in California retired. The year 2000 marked the end of the second generation reign when the youngest of this generation retired December 31st, at the age of 75.
In 1986, the strategic decision was made to diversify the Washington operation to also include large scale raspberries, blueberries and apples. Sakuma Brothers Farms currently produce 180 acres of strawberries, 220 acres of conventional and organic raspberries, 227 acres of conventional and organic blueberries, 57 acres of apples and 45 acres of raspberry nursery stock, along with smaller acreages of blackberries and market stand produce.
Following the closure of the last small fruit processing facility in Skagit County in 1990, Sakuma’s constructed an 8,000 square foot building and leased it to Flavorland Foods, Inc. for their operation as a small fruit processing plant. In 1997, Flavorland announced their intention to close for the 1997 harvest season. At that time Sakuma’s made the decision to purchase the processing equipment and to operate the processing facility as part of the total business, forming Sakuma Bros. Processing, Inc.
In 1999, vertical integration was achieved by adding a sales department to market and sell the end product packed by the processing facility. The total vertical integration within the small fruit industry now includes plant propagation and small fruit research, commercial nursery operations and sales, commercial and fresh market small fruit production, small fruit processing, sales of all processed and fresh market small fruit product, plus a farm market stand for retail, u-pick and ag-tourism.
Sakuma fruit and plants are marketed throughout the United States and internationally with a large customer base in Japan, Europe, Mexico, and Canada.
Throughout our Sakuma Family history we have, and we continue, to strive to achieve our Corporate Vision: “Honoring our past, growing our future”.