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Chino Farm celebrates 50-year milestone

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Makoto Chino tends to one of the fruit-bearing trees on the family’s farm.
(Luke Harold)

Chino Farm in Rancho Santa Fe last year celebrated its golden anniversary of opening its family-owned farm stand, where it sells crops including sweet corn, strawberries and tomatoes.

The farm itself dates back even further. Makoto Chino, 30, one of several family members who runs the farm, recalled the tumultuous history that led to the farm’s current reputation as one of the most renowned family farms in business. He said his family originally ran a farm in Carlsbad about 70 years ago, but they did not own the land. They were sent to an internment camp in Arizona during World War II, and the farm had been sold by the time they got out.

Shortly after the war, with a loan from a religious group, they bought the land along Calzada Del Bosque where the farm is currently located. Chino said the family sold their produce to businesses, then opened the farm stand 50 years ago to sell its wide array of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers directly to local residents.

“I feel like we’re part of the community,” said Chino, 30, whose great uncle arrived in the U.S. about 70 years ago and started the farm. “We just kept on doing what we do as best as we can do it.”

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Chino said his father, Tom, always started his day on the farm at 5 a.m., with the exception of Christmas Day, when he stayed home long enough to have breakfast with the rest of the family. It set the tone for the family’s work ethic, which also includes contributions from Chino’s aunt, two uncles and siblings who all take part in running the farm. He also said he has younger cousins who at the farm work during the summer.

“No one’s able to get away without doing work,” said Chino, who has attended law school at UCLA and still wants to work in law part time.

The family’s other crops include bok choi, collard greens, Swiss chard, lemons and limes.

The farm is open 10 a.m. to 3:33 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Chino said the farm has never done any marketing or advertising, but the quirky closing time has become one of its most recognizable traits. It’s open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays, and closed on Mondays. Endorsements from celebrity chefs Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck have also raised its profile.

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“When your name’s on something, you take more pride in what you do,” Chino said.

Chino Family Farms is located at 6123 Calzado Del Bosque. For more information, visit chinofamilyfarm.com.


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