California Nursery Historical Park
HISTORY


California Nursery
under Bruce Roeding
1971- present
by Karen Anderson

The Nursery property

The nursery business of California Nursery declined starting in the 1950s and especially in the 1960s.  This was due to a changing market and increasing push by developers.  Slowly the various properties outside of Niles were lost to pay off loan obligations and finally in 1971, developers Singer and Brooks were able to obtain the remaining nursery property. (1)

Saving the nursery grounds

The developers, Singer and Brooks planned to put a housing subdivision on the 60 acres of nursery property that they had acquired.  However, In order to get a permit for the development from the City of Fremont, the City required that Singer and Brooks provide acreage for a public park/green space in their plans.  Thus as part of the land development deal, title for 20 of the 60 acres was set aside and title to that land was transferred to the City of Fremont.   Part of this deal may have been due to the concerted effort by the local community to save the Nursery grounds from development (3).

The choice of the particular 20 acres out of 60 likely has to do with the number of key historical Nursery buildings on the 20 acres chosen.  The Old Adobe was important, one of the only remaining buildings in the area of Californiaís rancho days and  one of the oldest buildings still standing in Fremont.  (3) In 1971, based on a submission by Lowell Barry, the Old Adobe was designated a National Historic Place (though it is called the Niles Nursery Guest House).  (4)  In addition, other buildings were historical with the packing shed and take going back to the 1890, the office and cottage to 1907 etc.

After acquiring the property, the City of Fremont sublet the retail nursery grounds and some of the buildings to various nurseries; with the last occupant finishing just a few years ago.  

Saving the documents and artifacts

The Roedings, and particularly Bruce Roeding, have made it their lifeís work to not guard the documents photos and artifacts relating to the nursery but to also promote the development of a historic park that would showcase the importance of the California Nursery Company to the history of California and the United States during a pivotal time in our nationís history.   The documents, photos and artifacts combined with the the key buildings and plants that remain on the property make California Historic Park a completely unique and immeasurably valuable.

 

California Nursery Company business continues

Retail Nursery in Union City (1)

Despite the loss of the nursery property, California Nursery Company is still an ongoing business.  After 1971, Mr. and Mrs. George Roeding Jr., and their son, Bruce Roeding continued the California Nursery Corporation as a retail mail order nursery.  They leased two warehouses in Union City and had a small office on Decoto Road.  Using their decades of expertise and business contacts they developed the business anew.  Their operation was to sell retail by mail or phone order or to be an intermediary between  wholesaler and smaller retail nurseries.  Trees usually arrived in bundles of 10, and the Roedings separated, pruned and graded each one individually for sale.  The trees would then be shipped to individual clients or other retail nursery outlets. 

 Due to the poor health of George Jr. in the early 1980s the Union City warehouses were closed and the retail operation was moved to the Roeding property in Niles where they continued for a couple of years until George Sr. and his wife retired.

Pit processing in Modesto and Stockton (1)

A second operation of the CNC starting in the early 1980s and continues to the present is the processing of stone fruit pits from canneries and drying and processing them for seed.(2)  Pit processing  for seed had always been an important part of the CNC business from the early 1900s.  The recent pit processing operation used the seed from canneries in Modesto and Stockton, focusing on peach, apricot and plum pits.   At the height of this operation in the late 1980s and 1990s, CNC was processing 250 tons of seed annually to be shipped to clients throughout the United States. 

The pits continued to use the well known Roeding/CNC quality control.  Each batch would be tested for viability by visual inspection and by getting a sample of the seeds inspected by California State Department of Agriculture.  Certificates of viability would be included with each sale.

Bruce Roeding was able to adapt and improve the mechanization of drying and bagging the pits using the legendary Roeding ingenuity.  Like his grandfather before him he adapted a machine designed for another purpose to serve the new process, in this case adapting a walnut sorter into a pit cleaner and screener. Overall, he greatly increased the efficiency of all phases of the pit processing, reducing the amount of people required for the same amount of seed from 8-12 men to 3-4.  Currently, California Nursery Company still sells 20 tons of peach pits annually. 

References: 

(1)    Bruce Roeding, personal communication (2013)

(2)    Scrapbooks -- California Nursery Company --  ads for pit seeds

(3)    National Historic Register website; Item No. 71000130 NRIS (National Register Information System http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/71000130.pdf

(4)    National Historic Register website; Item No. 71000130 NRIS (National Register Information System) http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natregsearchresult.do?fullresult=true&recordid=0

 





 

California Nursery (1927 - 1972?)

 

 

managed by Math Science Nucleus
owned by
City of Fremont

36501 Niles Blvd, Fremont
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