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Hidden Gems & Cultural Treasures in Oxnard, California

October 3, 2019

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Hidden Gems Contest: Winner Announced! We asked; you answered… Where Would You Take an Oxnard Visitor?

We asked residents to send us tips on Oxnard’s hidden gems for a chance to win an Oxnard-inspired prize package. To recap, the prize package includes: a one (1) night stay at Hampton Inn Channel Islands Harbor* plus an excursion for two (2) aboard Island Packers to Channel Islands National Park**. We received dozens of submissions! And, now, we’re announcing the WINNER of our Oxnard Hidden Gems Contest.

*Subject to blackout dates and room availability.
**Excursion Passes are for a One (1) Day Trip on Santa Cruz Island

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On behalf of the students in Chicana/o Studies at California State University Channel Islands, Jennie Luna submitted tips on Oxnard’s lesser known agricultural gems, including Oxnard Farm Park & Museum (pictured), the Community Roots Garden at 1801 Joliet Place, the Cesar Chavez House at 452 N. Garfield Avenue, the American Sugar Beet Factory Plaque at 250 E. 5th Street and the Dr. Manuel M. Lopez Garden at 111 S. A Street. The students also submitted important historical sites, notable movements and even a newspaper! Congratulations to these students! And, well done. The full submission from the winning entry is highlighted below.

Hidden Gems Submissions – Highlights

American Sugar Beet Factory Historical Plaque at 250 E. 5th Street, Oxnard, CA 93033

The American Sugar Beet Factory was located between 5th Street and Wooley Road and it operated from August 19, 1899 until October 26, 1959. During the 20th century, ASBF was the second largest sugar beet factory in the world. The construction and operation of the factory along with the new railroad attracted a large labor force of Mexicans, Japanese, and Chinese workers. As time progressed, the population and commerce rapidly increased which helped establish the City of Oxnard in June 30, 1903.

Buena Vista Labor Camp

During World War II, a farm labor shortage occurred in the US because men were being sent off to participate in the war efforts. The US had a desperate need for farm workers and looked to Mexico for help. The US and Mexican government signed an agreement known as the “Bracero Program” in 1942 which created an emergency program to contract Mexican farm workers into the US. The Bracero Program brought in 4.6 million Mexican guest workers to the US to replace the American men who were busy at war. The Bracero Program was extended beyond World War II until its termination in 1964.The Buena Vista Labor Camp, located on the east side of Fifth Street in Oxnard, became the largest labor camp in the United States during the Bracero Program. At its peak, Buena Vista Labor Camp housed as many as 5,000 braceros.

Central Coast Alliance United for A Sustainable Economy at 4225 Saviers Road #1 & #2, Oxnard, CA 93033

CAUSE is a Non-Profit organization whose mission is to build grassroots power to invoke social, economic and environmental justice for the people of California’s Central Coast Region through policy research, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy. CAUSE defines the Central Coast Region as the counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito.

Cesar Chavez House at 452 N. Garfield Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93033

This site is considered a historical landmark in Oxnard since this is the site of where Cesar Chavez lived with his family. The plaque states “Cesar E. Chavez was born in Yuma, Arizona, on March 31, 1927. A garden of flowers in front of the home that obscures the house.

Chavez’ parents, Librado and Juana Chavez, came to Oxnard to work in the walnut orchards in 1938, 1939 and 1940. During their 1939 stay, the family lived in a storage building at this address. While in Oxnard, the Chavez children attended Our Lady of Guadalupe School. Chavez returned to Oxnard in 1958 with the community service organization to mobilize farm labor voting. He returned to Oxnard again in 1971 to organize the field workers union.

Chavez died on April 23, 1993 in San Luis Arizona, at the age of 66. The vision and legacy of Cesar Chavez lives in the hearts of many farm workers.” It is important to point out that Chavez and his family lived in La Colonia for a short period of time; they returned to Arizona months later.

Community Roots Garden at 1801 Joliet Place, Oxnard, CA 93030

The mission of the Community Roots Garden is to increase food security, both by providing the harvest to those in need and by empowering the community to grow their own food. Besides growing food we are eager to grow community. We want to help ourselves and others become more self-sufficient and food secure. We want to share our food and share our knowledge about how to grow food.

Dr. Manuel M. Lopez Garden

The Doctor Manuel Lopez Garden opened to the public in June 2011 in honor of former Mayor of Oxnard, Dr. Manuel M. Lopez, who generously donated his land for our use. It is a non-profit community garden open to the public to enjoy, share and learn. This garden is a ministry of the All Saints Episcopal Church which has generously supported us through the sharing of volunteers and resources throughout out our growth process.

El Rio/The Collection (RiverPark)

In 1875, a Jewish immigrant from Germany, Simon Cohn, took settlement on what was then known as the San Pedro Precincts. Cohn and his brothers denied the Oxnard brothers access to build one of their sugar beet factories on the land and created their own community, what they then called New Jerusalem. This area, to the north of today’s Highway 101, is presently known as El Rio, so named for its proximity to the Santa Clara River.

Inlakech Cultural Arts Center at 250 E. 5th Street, Oxnard, CA 93033

The Inlakech Cultural Arts Center is a free afterschool program that focuses on cultural arts and was founded in September 16, 1976. The Inlakech Cultural Arts Center’s mission is based on empowering our youth through community and collective teachings in the cultural arts of dance, music, art, and drama.

Japanese Cemetery at 2222 to 2238 E. Pleasant Valley Road, Oxnard, CA 93033

In the early 1900s, a large population of Japanese farm workers lived in Oxnard, dedicating much of their time working on Oxnard’s sugar beet farms. These workers lived primarily in “tent cities” and were unable to own land in California. The government granted the Japanese a small parcel of land in which to bury their loved ones. Garcia Mortuary currently owns this land, which is under restoration.

La Central Bakery & Tortilla Factory

In 1948, La Central Bakery & Tortilla Factory was founded by Teofilo and Carmen Rodriguez at Oxnard. However, the Rodriguez’ bakery services originally began in Santa Paula when the couple could not find reposteria. As a result, the Rodriguezes built a brick oven in their home and started La Central Bakery. Their bread became extremely popular in the Oxnard community.

La Colonia Park Mural at 170 N. Juanita Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93030

Each of the murals in La Colonia park to remind people in the community of what is their Latinx culture instead of the negative stereotypes of violence. The mural in La Colonia Park is decades old, however local artists have the opportunity to repaint the mural so it won’t fade.

La Voz de la Colonia (Newspaper)

An independent Spanish publication serving the interests of the Mexican people. Published in Santa Paula, CA, from December 1, 1927 – December 1932. Many Spanish only speaking residents wanted a newspaper that talked about the issues occurring in Oxnard, specifically in the neighborhood of La Colonia.

Michele Serros House at 233 Orange Drive, Oxnard, CA 93036

Michele Serros was born on February 10, 1966, and raised in the El Rio community in Oxnard. She was an author, a poet and a comedic social commentator. A lot of her work was based off her personal experiences which makes her more relatable and unique to fellow Chicanas. Michele Serros later went on to attend Ventura College and Santa Monica College and later transferred to UCLA. Some of her work include, Chicana Falsa and Other Stories of Death, Identity and Oxnard; How to be a Chicana Role Model; Honey Blonde Chica and ¡Scandalosa! Before losing her battle to cancer, Michele donated her works and possessions to CSU Channel Islands.

Mixteco Indigena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) at 520 W. 5th Street, Oxnard, CA 93030

The Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) unites indigenous leaders and allies to strengthen the Mixtec and indigenous immigrant community in Ventura County. Its membership is estimated at 20,000. Most are strawberry farmworkers, and many speak primarily their indigenous language. MICOP’s majority-indigenous staff builds community leadership and self-sufficiency through education and training programs, language interpretation, health outreach, humanitarian support, and cultural promotion. MICOP reaches approximately 6,000 individuals each year. and operates Radio Indigena, a radio station with programming in indigenous languages such as Mixteco.

Nardcore – Music Genre/Movement

Nardcore was a regional Hardcore Punk Movement that originated in the Oxnard suburbs of Silver Strand Beach and Port Hueneme. Oxnard managed to produce a wide number of bands from the 80’s until recent times, but the most well-known are Dr. Know, Ill Repute, Stalag 13, and Aggression. Aggression was the oldest band and in 1983 they opened up for the band Minor Threat in Northridge. As a result of Aggression’s inspiration, young musicians began to form bands around different parts of Oxnard. The Nardcore scene challenged broader conceptions of “small towns,” proving they could be centers of cultural production.

Oxnard Historic Farm Park at 1251 Gottfriedd Place, Oxnard, CA 93030

The Oxnard Historic Farm Park Foundation is a nonprofit group dedicated to the preservation of the two oldest remaining structures on the Oxnard Plain. The Park is comprised of a museum in the main house, a local history library and a winery originally used to store the wine for the Santa Clara Chapel. In addition, the Park includes antique displays such as antique tools, small vineyards of 1880s zinfandel vines and a display barn for tractors and thresher in addition to eye-catching lemon and avocado orchards.

Oxnard Housing Authority at 1470 E. Colonia Road, Oxnard, CA 93030

The Housing Department’s mission is to promote the general welfare of the City by remedying unsafe and substandard housing, and by relieving the shortage of affordable housing for City residents. This mission is consistent with the City’s General Plan and laws governing our housing funds and resources. The Housing Department provides safe, attractive, sanitary, and well-maintained housing for eligible low-income families in a manner that promotes commitment, exemplary customer service, economy, efficiency and the social well-being of residents.

Paint Not Prison at 4238 Saviers Road, Oxnard, CA 93033

Paint Not Prison is a program from a nonprofit organization, Arts for Action, that focuses on community organizing and beautification project. This program engages with local youth, mentors, and artist including some youth on probation for graffiti offenses. The mural presented was created by Paint Not Prison and is located on Fresh Mex Bar & Grill.

Police Activities League (PAL) Center at 350 S. K Street, Oxnard, CA 93030

The City of Oxnard created Oxnard’s PAL program in April 1994. The program creates an environment in which police officers can hang out with “at-risk” youth in a non-confrontational setting. The police officers and youth hang out and play basketball, shoot pool, play ping-pong, and etc. The center allows kids a safe space to participate in activities after school.

United Farm Worker Foundation at 920 S. A Street, Oxnard, CA 93030

The United Farm Workers Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2006 in Southern California. The foundation serves over 90,000 migrants and challenges the systematic and oppressive cycle of poverty. Its regional offices are safe havens that provides services and resources including immigration legal advice, educational outreach and civic engagement.

 

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