This year marks Kitazawa Seed Company’s 105th year since its founding, making it one of the oldest established seed companies in the country. The company was founded by Gijiu Kitazawa in San Jose, CA in 1917. Sadly, Kitazawa Seed Company has not been in continuous operation for that entire time. The company was forced to shut its doors from 1942 to 1945
On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 creating internment camps and forcing the evacuation of Asian-Americans to those camps. The Kitazawa family was about to celebrate their seed company’s 25th anniversary in downtown San Jose, but on May 30, 1942, the business had to dump all their seed and other inventory and close the business. The Kitazawa family left their home with limited possessions, and they were directed to the Santa Anita (racetrack) Assembly Center. Later, the family was sent to Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming. They spent approximately a year in Heart Mountain Internment Camp. Eventually, the Kitazawa family was able to secure a sponsor that allowed them to leave camp to work as “domestic help” in Michigan.
The family returned to San Jose in 1945 and they began the rebuilding process. The seed business was resumed in the family home basement, but many of the Asian-American farmers and customers lost their farms and homes so the seed business was starting from scratch. Loyal customers plus hard work and resilience allowed Kitazawa Seed Company to slowly rebuild what had been lost during the war.
It is important to remember the impact this act had on people, families, and businesses, including Kitazawa Seed Company. We wish to thank and offer our respect to those who endured and were impacted by this dark mark in American History. May we always learn from our mistakes.