Smyrna Figs are native to Turkey, and they were brought over to California in the 1880s. They are known for their excellent fruit and flavor. George C. Roeding was an expert at cultivating these figs, and they quickly became a major product of the California Nursery Company.
Many newspapers documented fruit growers', including George C. Roeding's, opposition to the Chinese Exclusion Act. This was because the Chinese immigrants were a large, dependable, and cheap source of labor. As seen in the second photo, the California Nursery employed a diverse group of laborers, including Chinese immigrants. Growers like Roeding feared that this act would increase the cost of production by forcing the growers to pay higher wages to the unionized American workers.
This shows a basket brought over by Chinese immigrant Bing Hong, a nursery worker. Everything he brought over from China fit into this one basket. The luggage has his hometown and name written on.
The California Nursery Company had a very large mother orchard, and stock trees were another major product sold by the company.
Scions are the top part of a grafted plant, the part producing shoots, leaves, and fruits. Such grafting allows growers to combine plants that had preferable traits, like large root systems or good fruit. Creating such grafts were very profitable for the California Nursery Company.
The California Nursery Company started as a mother orchard selling many scions, something the Roedings took advantage of when they bought it.
Ah Yen was a master grafter, having learned much knowledge about such plants in China. Fruits such as the apple, cherry, and peach are native to China, so Ah Yen had much experience working with these plants. Unlike other immigrant workers, Ah Yen had a managerial position, overlooking the entire mother orchard. Under his care, the Mother Orchard at California Nursery Company became the largest in North America at its time.Entrance