Seed: The Life of the Rice King and His Kin
In the small town of Dos Palos lies California’s oldest family-owned and operated rice farm, Koda Farms.
Keisaburo Koda left Japan for the United States, seeking the American dream. After numerous business ventures, Keisaburo decided to farm rice, like his father before him. Because he was Japanese, much of the plush, fertile land in the south was unavailable to him, leaving only the hard clay soil of Dos Palos, for the NON-white farmers. Though rice had never been grown in this harsh environment, Keisaburo’s blood, sweat and pure determination gave birth to abundant crops of rice, making believers, of all those who doubted. Koda farms became one of the most respected farms in California, earning him the title The Rice King.
However, In 1942, the outbreak of World War II caused a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment across the nation; leading to the passage of executive order 9066. This order legalized jailing’s of American citizens, whose only crime was having Japanese heritage. Japanese-Americans were forced into “internment camps”; while their property, business were stolen, or lost to foreclose, as their rightful owners remained interned and powerless. Keisaburo Koda returned to Dos Palos, only to his once thriving farm, reduced to shell of its former self. 10,000 acres of land liquidated along with their homes and livestock.
Not defeated, he dedicated himself to improving the lives of Japanese Americans and bringing the farm back to its original glory.
Today, Ross and Robin Koda (Keisaburo’s grandchildren), carry that dream forward, in the wake of the worst drought in California’s history. With each harvest comes new challenges, but they still plant seeds for future generations, just as their grandfather had done before them, when he was known as THE RICE KING.
Director: Masanori Baba
Producer: Shinichiro Okano, Masanori Baba
Join Independent Film Society of Colorado at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media for this free documentary screening with the help of the Japan-America Society of Southern Colorado – JASSC. We will have popcorn and refreshments for a donation. Free admission.
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