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June 25, 2013 > California Nursery: a forgotten part of Fremont History

California Nursery: a forgotten part of Fremont History

Submitted By Joyce Blueford

The Niles district in Fremont was known for its agricultural contributions in the newly formed State of California. This land of plenty had unlimited water, fertile land, and a protected area from the winds. It was home to many orchards and nurseries but one of the most successful in North America was the 500-acre California Nursery Company which started in San Jose in 1865 and moved to the Vallejo Ranchero (Niles) in 1884. The California Nursery Company story in Fremont starts with John Rock, a German immigrant, who served in the Civil War as a decorated hero. He developed new methods of plant propagation which was an evolving science in the late 1800's and consulted with the renowned plant breeder, Luther Burbank.

Agriculture during the 1890's was California's new gold rush. The demand for trees that produced food for consumption encouraged development of many nurseries devoted to their production. New techniques on hybridization and grafting to create new varieties of fruit were creating demand all over the country and new methods to transport trees and fruit evolved throughout the nation. Machinery to pick, dry, and package plants was being invented. The California Nursery Company was a lucrative business and mercantile bankers saw an opportunity to make money. During the William Landers period (father and son) at the turn of the century, the business flourished.

George C. Roeding Sr., of the very successful Francher Creek Nursery in Fresno, purchased the California Nursery Company in 1917 to create one of the largest chains of nurseries on the West Coast - from Washington State to South America. His son, George C. Roeding Jr. took over at the beginning of the depression and expanded the nursery into a successful retail and mail order business.

Exotic Bulb Festivals with local "tulip girls" brought hundreds of thousands of people to tour the nursery and trees from this nursery were used to landscape the 1915 Panama International Exposition in San Francisco as well as the 1939-40 World's Fair on Treasure Island.

During the 1940's, the public looked to home food gardens as a way to help the war effort. California Nursery Company transformed its image, helping people to learn about horticulture. Today, Bruce Roeding still owns California Nursery Company and sells peach pits, used to grow seedlings as grafts for other stone fruit.

Joyce Blueford, Ph.D. of Math Science Nucleus was asked by the City of Fremont to help preserve the history of the buildings at the California Nursery. She will present its story through photos and videos and research covering thousands of documents and artifacts saved by the present owner of the California Nursery Company, Bruce Roeding of Niles.

To learn more about the California Nursery Historical Park and help keep its legacy alive, join Dr. Blueford at the Fremont Main Library on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 from 7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

She will discuss the historic buildings at the 20-acre California Nursery Historical Park, renovation of the Nursery Office and the goal to restore the buildings including the Vallejo Adobe (early 1830's), the Packing Shed (1890's), and two possible Bernard Maybeck designed buildings (1907) to tell the tale of agricultural innovation and success.

Learn about California Nursery Historical Park
Tuesday, July 16
7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Fremont Main Library
2400 Stevenson Blvd., Fremont
(510) 790-6284
http://msnucleus.org


Volunteers are needed!
If you would like to help in the preservation of the California Nursery Historical Park, Math Science Nucleus will be landscaping the California Nursery property every Wednesday in July and archiving in August. For more information, visit: http://msnucleus.org/calnursery/events.html

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