ROOTED IN THE VALLEY: The Hagopians escaped the Armenian Genocide to thrive in the San Joaquin Valley

January 1, 2024
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
by Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Richard Hagopian is a farmer, a restaurateur and a master oud player. SCREEN GRAB
Jesse Vad, SJV Water
Jesse Vad, SJV Water

Share This: 

Richard Hagopian’s family was one of thousands that escaped the Armenian Genocide in the early 1900s and forged a new path in the fertile San Joaquin Valley.

It wasn’t an easy life, especially after his  father died, leaving Richard the man of the family while still in his teens. But hard work, a successful music career and a beloved family restaurant in Visalia, sustained the family and built a future for new generations.
Now in his 80s, Richard has come back to farming. Whether his sons will keep it going is up to them. “I can’t tell the future,” he said.

Thank you to SJV Water donors and the James B. McClatchy Foundation for supporting our work.



* This is the fifth in SJV Water’s series of videos called “Rooted in the Valley,” featuring small family farmers who continue to work the land in spite of all the challenges they face – especially water.

See previous videos here:

PAUL LEE – He is second-generation Hmong farmer working to keep his parents’ legacy alive.

WILL SCOTT – He’s working to instill the love and mission of farming in young Black people.

LISET GARCIA – An injury brought her back to Reedley where farming helped her heal.

HARRY BRAR – From India to Selma, farming is a way of life.

Jesse Vad, SJV Water

SJV Water is an independent, nonprofit news site dedicated to covering water in the San Joaquin Valley. Get inside access to SJV Water by becoming a member.


Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter & Get Email Notifications

Enter your email address to receive INSTANT ALERTS of new articles and to be added to SJV Water’s WEEKLY NEWSLETTER