Flowers – The California Way
(a history of the California Floral Industry;
first presented at Fun 'N Sun 2017)

 

Today’s California flower industry stands on the shoulders of the thousands who built the industry from virtually nothing over the past 135-plus years to the important force it is today.

CalFlowers, formerly known as NORCAL, celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016.  To recognize this milestone, we present the highlights of the flower industry in California, from its spontaneous beginnings in Northern and Southern California to the position it holds today as the “flower garden” of the United States.

California’s flower industry is a story of immigration, experimentation, innovation, family, population, disruption, opportunities and collaboration.  We hope you enjoy this high-level tribute:  “Flowers – the California Way.”

In the decade leading up to the emergence of the commercial cut flower industry in California, the Civil War ended, the transcontinental railroad was completed, and California’s population grew by 47% (1860 to 1870); it grew by 54% between 1870 and 1880.  In fact, California’s population has grown with double-digit percentages every decade since the Civil War until 2010.

California enjoyed the perfect combination of ingredients for the flower industry to start and flourish: knowledgeable and motivated growers, expanding market, and wide variety of excellent growing climates.

California Flowers – In Three Eras

We see California’s floral history in three distinct eras separated by major disruptions that challenged growers, transporters, and distributors to remain competitive.  In the decade leading up to the beginning of the commercial cut flower industry in California, the Civil War ended, the transcontinental railroad was completed and California’s population grew by 46% to 560,247. California’s population would grow by double-digit percentages every decade since 1860 through 2010!

  • The Early Era:  1870's to 1941
  • The Middle Era:  1942 - 1993
  • The Current Era:  1994 - Present

 

 

 

Early Era

Flowers sold on Market Street, San Francisco before 1906 earthquake

Hayashi Nursery delivery truck – Hayashi Nursery founded between 1911 and 1920 in Oakland, CA

Tilling the soil by manpower – chrysanthemum fields in San Francisco Bay Area 1918

Tike Karavas and little brother
Dan in 1945 in family flower field in Redondo Beach