One of Cardiff-by-the-Sea’s last farms has been sold. The four-acre former Fugimoto flower farm at the corner of Lake Drive and Birmingham Drive has sat vacant for years, since Morizo Fugimoto retired.
The Fugimoto family was one of many North County Japanese farmers that were interned at the Poston, Arizona War Relocation Center. The family received the full asking price of $3.8 million.
Jack Fugimoto, the oldest son of Morizo’s five-sibling clan, said, “All the families stored what they could in a community center on Balour Drive. When we returned after the war, it was all gone, just junk remained.”
The originally 12-acre farm was purchased in 1948. It was a chance for the Leucadia sharecropper, who had been growing strawberries down near the Batiquitos Lagoon, to return to the post-war farming lifestyle. “But even after the war, as an immigrant from Japan, it was illegal for dad to own property, so he put everything in my name,” said Fugimoto.
“My dad tried farming vegetables at first,” said Fugimoto. In 1968, the senior Fugimoto joined the Encinitas flower co-op, just as the area was becoming known as the “Flower Capital of the World.” Local flower growers would meet the northbound Santa Fe trains at the Encinitas station to load flowers in refrigerated boxcars. Or some would drive daily to LAX for air-cargo shipments around the country.
“He made a good living with flowers. It allowed him to retire comfortably, “ said Fugimoto. “He wasn’t doing well with just vegetables.”
According to Doug Harwood, the family’s real estate agent, the new owners, Zephyr Partners, will not try to increase buildable density of the property. He says the company will build within the city’s current zoning — four ocean-view luxury homes of one acre each.
Unfortunately, the longtime Kiki’s flower stand on the property will need to close shop by the end of the month. And Christmastime’s Ted’s Trees lot will not be up this year; Ted Platis will move his lot to the weekend bazaar lot next to the La Paloma Theatre on Coast Highway. However, the farm’s new owners will allow him to post a sign notifying customers of his new location.
The Fugimotos asked Harwood for a plaque to be placed on the property for the public to read about the history of the family and the farm.
“He was happy to do it,” said Jack Fugimoto.