The founder of California missions, Father Junipero Serra, brought many things with him from Spain and most of this riches had little to do with gold. You can't eat gold bullion, but you can eat bouillon, olives, grapes, beef"and nuts"almonds, to be precise. In 1769 when Father Junipero Serra began to establish the 21 missions he introduced many varieties of fruits and vegetables, dairy cows and cheesemaking, he layed the foundation for the agriculture industry in California.
Unfortunately the almond seeds that he planted along the mission route (El Camino Real) between San Diego and San Francisco weren't particularly significant in the development of today's almond industry"California ranks as the top producer/exporter in the world, no special thanks to the nutty padre.
It wasn't until 66 years after his death that special almond tree plantings took root and blossomed in the early 1850s, producing nuts and proving that California had great climate for commercial almond growing.
Last year California's almond crop set a world record in production and slightly edged out grapes to become the state's 2nd largest food income generator under milk. Could Father Serra ever have imagined that the type of plants, seeds and livestock he introduced to California would far exceed original goals of supporting the mission population, and one day become the area's most important food products, helping nourish and feed the planet?