A Rich Agricultural Heritage

Agriculture has always been part of life here in Union City. In the early days, the Masonic Home was an almost self-sufficient farm, with power and water plants, a dairy farm, 2,000 chickens, a hog ranch, vegetable gardens, fruit orchards, berry gardens, and more.

For many years, gladiola fields ornamented Mission Boulevard, just outside the campus gates. The gladiola was also incorporated into the city’s first seal, and in 1985, Union City held its first annual Gladiola Festival to celebrate these lovely flowers. Though the fields were relocated to the Central Valley due to pesticide concerns, Union City’s delight of these flowers endures. Many residents affectionately refer to it as the “City of Gladiolas.”

Farming and gardening are still a rich part of our campus today. In addition to the beautiful gardens our residents and staff maintain, our many fields yield a great deal of hay, which is sold to local farmers. A local beekeeper houses hives on campus, helping ensure the pollination of flowers and agricultural crops while yielding local honey. And, Dig Deep Farms and Produce – a project of the Alameda County Deputy Sheriffs Activities League – operates on campus, bringing healthy food to underresourced families in Alameda County, while providing needed job training opportunities for at-risk youth and under-employed adults.

Each autumn, we recall our agricultural heritage during Tomato Palooza – a festive celebration of our tomato harvest, complete with its famous “leaded” and “unleaded” bloody marys. Thank you to everyone who attended this year!

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