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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mary Ann Borina Radovich: Croatian Apple Farmer, Watsonville, California, 1918-1977


This oral history, conducted with Mary Ann Borina Radovich on June 7 and June 22, 1977, focuses on Radovich's extensive experience as an apple farmer in Watsonville, California from the 1930s to the 1970s. It is also a significant contribution to the ethnic history of the Croatian community in the Pajaro Valley of California.

In this oral history Radovich discusses her family's history and their emigration to the United States. She describes the early apple industry in Watsonville, and the changes that took place over the years in terms of labor, mechanization, irrigation, crop varieties, pest control, harvesting, and land use. Her detailed and reflective narration makes this oral history a singular contribution to the agricultural history of Central California.

Radovich owned Borina Orchards from the 1940s through the time of this interview in 1977, and beyond. For many of those years her husband, Rafael Radovich, was her business partner, and in fact beginning in 1957 he was primarily responsible for the apple business. They had no children. In 1977 the orchard was about one hundred acres, mostly planted in dwarf apple trees. They grew Pippin and Delicious apples.

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