National Apple Museum
Biglerville, PA 17307
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Early History
of the
Apple Industry
in Adams County

 A is for apple


Many people have come to work in the orchards of the Yakima Valley. In the earliest orchards, the workforce was made up of owners and their families. As orchards grew in size, more people had to be hired to meet the growing labor needs.

In the 1920s and 1930s, during the Dustbowl and the Great Depression, many people were destitute and desperate for work. Unlike the decimated farmland of the midwest, Washington's agricultural regions were flourishing. People came from the Dakotas, Nebraska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas to work in the Washington apple industry.

During World War II growers and ranchers did not have a strong workforce because many people were serving their country in the Armed Forces. As a result, from 1942 to 1964 thousands of workers called "braceros" were brought from Mexico under the bilateral agreements between the United States and Mexico. Workers came to work for U.S. ranchers and growers, and many came to work in the Yakima Valley. In 1964, after exposure of deplorable living conditions and under scrutiny by U.S. labor unions, the Braceros Program came to an end.

There are still migrant workers from Mexico hired by Yakima Valley apple orchards-about 20,000 annually. Most come from the Mexican states of Jalisco, Oaxaca, and Michoacan. Some hope to return home and buy their own farms someday. Others bring their families and stay to work in the orchards year-round, seeking U.S. citizenship.


 workers today

 apple picking

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The Biglerville Historical and Preservation Society
and The National Apple Museum
154 West Hanover Street - P.O. Box 656
Biglerville, PA 17307-9442 - Telephone: 717-677-4556

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