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The Palos Verdes Peninsula's last farmer

James James Hatano turns off one of the Palos Verdes Peninsula's oceanfront drives and onto a hidden dirt road, just as he has for more than 50 years. He guides his Buick LaCrosse up a gentle hill to the fields where he raises cacti and flowers.

While he works, Hatano can look out at the Pacific and see whales and dolphins.

As he chops off a beavertail cactus paddle, he gazes across Palos Verdes Drive West to where construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the 582-room Terranea resort with its nine-hole golf course, 25,000-square-foot spa and three pools.

Marineland of the Pacific once stood on the site. Before that, Hatano recalls, a man named Tomio Nakano raised tomatoes there. What is now Trump National Golf Club, he says, was once barley and vegetable fields.

"This area's all full of homes, but it used to be full of garbanzo fields," Hatano says. "I didn't even know what garbanzos were until I came up here."

Hatano, 82, is the last farmer on the Palos Verdes Peninsula -- and the last link to a Palos Verdes few remember, one dotted with farms worked by Japanese immigrants and their families. Their garbanzo beans and tomatoes, nourished by rain and ocean mists, were known worldwide. Read more here.

-- Jeff Gottlieb

Photo: James Hatano, 82, is the last farmer on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the last link to a Palos Verdes few remember. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

 
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