Sunrise Nursery

Watsonville, CA
Sunrise Nursery

Maria Fernandes, always dreamed of owning a farm for growing flowers. After arriving in Watsonville in 1970 from the small Portuguese island of Sao Jorge, Maria, she first worked as a laborer in a large commercial nursery growing greenhouse with chrysanthemums and carnations. After moving on to work at several Monterey canneries, she became tired of labor strikes, low pay, and poor conditions.

In 1992, they went to year-round production and began to lease several acres of greenhouses until 1998, when they were able to acquire more land with greenhouse facilities. At this point, Sunrise Nursery attended six weekly seasonal Farmers’ Markets, employing the three oldest Fernandes children during summers and weekends.

In 2001 Maria and Jose’s second eldest son, Steve, continued in the family business and bought five acres with greenhouses which he fixed up and filled with roses. Steve acts as the general manager of the nursery, spending most of his time in the fields overseeing all stages of production and facilities operation. A few years ago, Maria’s youngest child Tim also decided to pursue the family business as Sunrise Nursery’s sales manager. He spends most of his time attending and coordinating 18 weekly farmers’ markets.


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