In the Valley of Heart’s Delight: Vintage Fruit Crate Art & A Brief History of Agriculture in San Jose, Calif.

Some prudent visitors to San Jose, may delight in seeing the valley as it was long before silicon and high-tech became its most renowned exports. The Stevens Ranch Fruit Barn in historical Kelley Park, just southeast of downtown San Jose, will give you a glimpse through their informative exhibit of the Valley of Heart’s Delight, the original name for the region that was once abundant with flora, orchards, and groves.

Before the 1960s, San Jose was the biggest producer and distributor of fruit in the world, with 39 canneries at its height. Prunes and apricots were the predominant crops, followed by pears and peaches. The last cannery, Del Monte, closed in 1999 after over 100 years of operating in San Jose.

In the post-WWII years, rapid development and migration to the valley led to an increased parceling of farm land. Nearby Stanford University played a large part in the engineering and tech development of the valley, as well as the changing economic landscape. Farming and agriculture, meanwhile, moved further north and east to the Sacramento and Central Valleys as Silicon Valley was being born.

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