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4. Agriculture

Agriculture BannerRanching
Raising cattle was the first large scale enterprise in the valley. There were immense tracts of rich pastureland surrounding the mission and little labor was needed to care for them. By 1823, vast herds of cattle ranged over Santa Clara's grazing lands and the hide and tallow industry boomed. This changed with the arrival of American immigrants who developed grain farms and orchards on what had been open pastures.

Agriculture
The fertile soil of Santa Clara Valley encouraged farmers to grow many different types of crops. Wheat and grain were the primary crops until the 1880s, when farmers began to diversify into other crops and orchards. Some vineyards were planted. Family farms were small but bountiful. Thousands of acres produced garden seeds for vegetables and flowers which were sent throughout the world.

Orchards
The arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 gave growers a national market for their fruit and other crops. By the early 20th century, 100,000 acres of valley land were planted with fruits and nuts including cherries, pears and peaches. Prunes and apricots became the area's biggest crops and Santa Clara was known as the Prune Capital of the World. Some said there was no better place on earth to grow fruit than Santa Clara Valley. 

Canning Industry
The development of food processing technology created a new opportunity for growers in Santa Clara Valley. The Pratt Low Canning Company alone covered 10 acres by 1922 and employed as many as 1000 men, women and children. During the canning season, the air would be filled with the fragrance of cherries, plums, tomatoes, and other fruits being processed. Ten million cans were shipped worldwide each year.
Last updated: 10/19/2009 4:27:20 PM