Eugene and Ercia Harden founded the Harden
Foundation in 1963 to assist charitable organizations in the
Eugene Harden was born in 1892 in Long Beach,
California. He was raised on his parentís ranch in Wyoming and
moved to California as a youngster. He was vice president of the
First National Bank of Holtville when he met and married
18-year-old Ercia Swindle in 1913. The young Hardens became
active in the civic and social life of the Imperial Valley,
where Eugene formed Zenos and Harden Farms, specializing in
lettuce and melons.
In the 1920's, the Hardens moved to Salinas.
Eugene Harden formed E. E. Harden Packing Company, which later
became Harden Farms of California. He also formed Harden Farms,
Inc., and was one of the founders of the Growers Ice and
Development Company. He was active in the Grower-Shipper
Vegetable Association, serving as its president, and helped
pioneer modern growing, harvesting, and marketing techniques for
lettuce, carrots, and cauliflower as these crops gained
dominance in the Salinas Valley.
Ercia Harden volunteered with local charitable
and civic organizations, as she had in the Imperial Valley. Her
flowers, grown at the Harden home, often brightened patients'
rooms at the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, where she was a
founding member and active volunteer Pink Lady in the Service
Although the Hardens had no children, they
shared a special concern for the well-being of young people in
their community. Ercia and Eugene Harden also shared a love for
animals. Both were accomplished equestrians. They also took
special pride in the German shorthaired pointers they raised.
They won many championships, including four national dual
The Harden Home, built by Duncan McKinnon in
1881, was the center of the Home Ranch, and the focus of many
friendly gatherings throughout the Hardens' lives in Salinas.
Today it serves as headquarters for the Harden Foundation.
Eugene Harden died on August 26, 1984, and Ercia
on December 28, 1986. Their hard work and good fortune in
agriculture in the Salinas Valley produced the legacy that has,
through their foresight and generosity, become today's Harden