Bob Sakata’s parents were Japanese immigrants who came to Colorado in the early 1940s. He found himself in an interment camp during World War II at a time when over 100,000 people of Japanese descent were being held.
When he was released from an interment camp, Sakata worked on a dairy farm where he was eventually granted 40 acres of farmland from the dairy farm’s owner. Sakata expanded his 40 acres of farmland to over 2,000 acres, and at one-time sweet corn made up nearly 80 percent of his farm’s production.
Colorado’s unique climate, controlled irrigation and its sweet corn seed production allowed for some of the best tasting sweet corn in the country, and Sakata Farms led the way in terms of sweet corn growers along the Front Range. Due to expenses for migrant workers and an increase in traffic surrounding the farm, Sakata Farms will no longer produce sweet corn, along with cabbage and broccoli. Instead, the farm will use the space that was once used for sweet corn to grow crops like onions and pinto beans.
The farm transported seasonal workers from Florida to Colorado to help with the sweet corn harvest, and it was responsible for providing those workers with housing. The price for those workers proved to be too much for Sakata Farms. Additionally, the Front Range’s population has significantly increased, and the farm is now surrounded by businesses like Walmart, King Soopers and IHOP.
Colorado residents like James Ramirez have come to appreciate Sakata Farms’ sweet corn. Ramirez is a Colorado native, and he says that his family used the farm’s sweet corn to make dishes like sweet corn casserole when he was growing up.
“We grew up eating (Sakata Farms) sweet corn. It’s always nice to buy locally, and it’s a sad day for Colorado that they won’t be growing sweet corn anymore,” Ramirez said.
In March the farm sold the equipment it used for sweet corn production including its de-husking and wrapping machine that Sakata personally designed and a bus that the farm used to transport employees to different areas of the farm. Today, the farm is operated by Robert Sakata, Bob’s son.
“(Sakata Farm’s) sweet corn was amazing, and it was something that I grew up on. There is nothing like buying things locally, and I will miss their sweet corn,” Ramirez said.