Keetley Farms


Farming colony in Utah organized by Japanese Americans who left California in March 1942 in order to avoid forced removal and incarceration. Located in the mountains at 6,200 feet elevation about forty miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Keetley Farms represented the largest venture of the "voluntary evacuation" period. It was organized by Fred Wada, who ran a produce market in Oakland, and who sought to move inland when informed of the impending exclusion. At the suggestion of his Utah born and raised wife Masako, he traveled to Utah and struck a deal with Keetley mayor and landowner George Fisher to lease some 3,500 acres. He recruited some 130 others, who left California towards the end of August just before the end of "voluntary evacuation." Greeted initially by fear and hostility, the settlement gradually won over the surrounding community while growing crops such as lettuce and strawberries to feed its own residents and to distribute locally. Colonists also provided farm labor to neighboring farms. The colonists took on the motto "Food for Freedom" and came to be portrayed as patriotic Americas by the local media. After the West Coast was reopened in 1945, about 2/3 of the colonists returned home, while 1/3 settled in Utah. Former colonists organized a reunion in California in 1988.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Japanese American Citizens League. They Work for Victory: The Story of Japanese Americans and the War Effort. Salt Lake City, Utah: Japanese American Citizens League, n.d. [1945].

"The Keetley Story: Story of War-Born Community of Evacuees Told in Scrapbook." Pacific Citizen, Sept. 25, 1948, 2.

Miyamoto, Grace. "Keetley Reunion Brings Together Friends and Neighbors." Pacific Citizen, Dec. 23–30, 1988, E-17.

Taylor, Sandra C. "Japanese Americans and Keetley Farms: Utah's Relocation Colony." Utah Historical Quarterly 54.4 (Fall 1986): 328-44.

White, Marilyn Curtis. "Keetley, Utah: The Birth and Death of a Small Town." Utah Historical Quarterly 62.3 (Summer 1994), 246–60.