The Chino Family
Chino Nojo -- nojo means farm in Japanese -- traces its history to the early 1920s, when Junzo Chino emigrated from the small Japanese fishing village of Hashiguii. Eventually settling in Los Angeles, Junzo married Hatsuyo Noda, who had emigrated from Wakayama, Japan. After working in the farming community in L.A., Junzo and Hatsuyo later moved southwards, first to Carlsbad and subsequently to the San Dieguito Valley, which was then a rural expanse of fields near Del Mar, where they rented land. After WWII, during which time the family was interned in Arizona, the Chinos returned to the area and resumed farming, soon purchasing 56 acres of choice land in the San Dieguito Valley. There they raised their nine children and established Chino Farm.
Today’s Chino Farm is run by Tom Chino, alongside his brothers Frank (Koo) and Fred (Fumio) and his sister Kay (Kazumi). The farm is famous for its sweet corn, strawberries, and tomatoes, but it also grows hundreds of varieties of other vegetables and fruits each year. Alice Waters of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse was the first renowned chef to recognize and publicize the high quality of Chino Farm produce. Other chefs quickly followed in her footsteps, putting the farm on the culinary map nationwide.
For all its importance to the American culinary scene, Chino Farm has also retained its connection with Japan, where the farm is well known. During the last half century, the family has hosted over 1000 Japanese trainees who have come to work in the fields and greenhouses, and to study the Chinos’ ideas, techniques, and guiding principles. Those principles are also evident to everyone who encounters Chino Farm: respect for tradition balanced with far-sighted innovation; deep dedication to the land; and passionate commitment to good food.
The November 30, 1992, issue of the New Yorker includes a profile of the Chino farm and family called "The Chinos' Artful Harvest,” by Mark Singer. If you have access to the New Yorker archives, this fascinating article is very much worth reading! Other articles: Saveur, Reuters.