The Garcia Family
Daniel Garcia was born in northern Mexico in 1870. He migrated to Texas, where his son Merced Garcia was born in 1919.
Merced had to leave school after the second grade because his family needed his help working in the fields, but the lack of a formal education did not keep him from trying to make a better life for himself. In his 20s, he began coming to the Yakima Valley to work in the hop fields and apple orchards, often bringing family members and other Mexican workers with him. He would return to Texas to farm during the off-season.
Merced married Christina Rocha in 1950. The couple continued their annual migrations from Texas to Washington State, but when their second child was born, they decided it was time to settle down in a permanent home. They chose to live in the Yakima Valley, moving first to a housing camp in Cowiche, on Frank Lord's hop farm. In the Fall of 1954, they were able to purchase their own land. On their 3 ½ acres in Cowiche, the Garcias raised five children, as well as livestock and a large garden.
In 1955, Merced was hired by orchardist A. Paul Amos. Here he learned to do the many varied jobs an apple orchard requires, as well as those in a warehouse and on a packing line. After 17 years with Amos, Merced purchased his own 36-acre apple orchard in 1972; the first harvest was so bountiful that he was able to pay the contract in full. In 1985 Merced "semi-retired" and leased the orchard to his son René.
Merced and Christina Garcia's oldest child René was born in 1951 while they were living in Texas. He grew up on the family place in Cowiche but took a job in logging rather than agriculture. However, when his father bought the apple orchard in 1972, René returned to help with it. Soon after, he purchased his own 20-acre orchard in Naches Heights. When speaking about how his father influenced his life, René says, "He started out with almost nothing. He just worked seven days a week, and so did I."
This hard work has paid off. In 20 years, René and his wife Carmen have expanded their 20-acre apple orchard into the company G&G Orchards, with 200 acres of apples and pears, storage buildings, and a packing and storage warehouse. As of 2006, G&G Orchards had 800 acres of cherries, apples, and pears, and packed fruit from five other growers in addition to its own.
René's son, Damen Garcia, is the third generation to follow in the family business. When his grandfather Merced died in 1994, Damen bought the original 36-acre orchard from his grandmother Christina. The Garcias are a fine example of a family that has indeed found the better life they were searching for when they settled in the Yakima Valley.