Success

1926 to 1942

After being successful as a strawberry farmer, in 1924 B.D. developed a berry preservation technique by “freezing” barrels of berries packed with sugar.

In 1926, the family purchased 60 acres of Vashon farmland in Masa’s name; as American born, 16 year old was allowed to buy property.  His father, a Japanese immigrant, was excluded from owning property.

In 1927, the family built the Fruit Barreling Plant to house their burgeoning business.

In 1928, they built their home, a Craftsman bungalow.  Over the following years, Kuni Mukai surrounded the house with a Japanese hill garden as a way to express her Japanese heritage. At the time, the garden was a significant achievement by a Japanese woman.

Throughout the 1930’s, including the Depression years, the farm continued to prosper.  Over 400 workers were employed each year to help pack and ship 200 tons of strawberries. The farm featured a bunkhouse that housed 250 of the workers.

In 1934 B.D. retired, he and Kuni divorced, and B.D. returned to Japan. Masa, educated at Washington State University and the University of Washington, took over the business, increasingly focusing more on the freezing process and less on growing berries.

In 1939, as anti-Japanese sentiment increased, Mukai changed the name to Vashon Island Packing Company (VIPCo).

During this time period, the family formed deep ties in the community.  They processed berries from a number of island farmers.  Socially, they hosted numerous parties and events for friends and family.  They were the epitome of a successful immigrant family.

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