SAN MARCOS — Though many mistake it for a vegetable, San Diego’s most profitable fruit — the avocado — will have an entire pop-up museum devoted to it in the heart of San Marcos this summer.
Set up on the ground floor of the new apartment complex North City just blocks from Cal State University San Marcos, “The Cado” offers up a mix of history, science, culture and a chance for catchy Instagram photos all in one short visit. It opened on June 27 and will remain at North City until Sept. 22.
Mary Carr, who conceptualized “The Cado” alongside her sister Anne Buehner, said she hopes visitors in San Diego County can have a taste of what is more the norm in a place like Los Angeles.
“I, having just come back to San Diego (from working in Los Angeles), was really disappointed that not much was here in the way of experiences,” explained Carr, who co-owns the firm & boom Unlimited with Buehner. “Wonderspaces hadn’t come yet and really the only cities that were getting cool innovate experiences were L.A., New York and San Francisco. Either these types of experiences, but also other cutting edge art installations.”
And so, during a lunch two years ago in which the sisters brainstormed creative professional collaboration ideas, they planted the intellectual seeds of what became “The Cado,” sponsored by The California Avocado Commission.
San Diego County, and in particular North County, is the largest producer of avocados in California. But few realize that, said Carr, let alone the deeper backstory of the avocado.
“I really wanted to see something here that wasn’t random, but was something that people rally around and brought people together and had lots of layer of story to tell,” said Carr. “Knowing it’s a trend on Instagram and will bring in the millennials, it was kind of exciting to think about ‘OK, we can bring them in, they’ll get their photos, but they can also learn why this is so cool and why it’s not just trendy.’ Like, there’s farmers who are growing this fruit and it matters and we need to support them.”
The pop-up museum is truly an experience, from seeing it draped with green decorative awnings from the outside, an introduction on a Walkman cassette tape player by Jason Mraz, having a chance to learn what a truly ripe avocado feels like via a wall display, and getting a history lesson about the fruit’s entrance into the agricultural realm in Southern California.
Indeed, part of the pop-up museum includes a stump on display from the very first avocado tree grown by Rudolph Hass, the namesake of Hass avocado variety. That tree began growing in La Habra Heights, California in 1926 and received a patent — a copy of which also hangs on display — in 1935.
Situated in San Marcos, not far from the Interstate Highway 15 “Avocado Highway” section between Escondido and Temecula, Buehner said that the pop-up museum has an ideal location to put the avocado and the farmers growing it on display.
“One thing that really struck us was the shortage of farmers,” said Buehner. “In talking to the growers, really their passion is incredible for what they do. It’s really unique and we’ve heard from so many people that young people aren’t growing up wanting to be farmers anymore the way they used to. So, something we’ve talked about is, I hope The Cado sparks an interest in how avocados are grown and maybe people getting a glimpse into that being a possible career path.”
Buehner and Carr grew up in Encinitas, where they both still live today, and said they hope their company can bring more in-person public relations experiences into the forefront within the San Diego County business community.
“With & boom, we think that real life moments still matter and we want to help facilitate those, so actually meeting outside the internet,” said Buehner. “It doesn’t mean the internet’s not involved because we know that’s a huge part of how people get here and how they experience while they’re here, so we include that understanding in our experiences. But it’s really like, how can we create that experience that matters, that helps people connect to one another?”
Tickets to “The Cado” cost $19 for general admission and $17.50 for military veterans and students. Kids under 3 are free; for youth ages 3 to 12 the cost is $14. “The Cado” is located at 250 North City Drive in San Marcos and open Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Above: Visitors at a preview walkthrough at “The Cado” listen to cassette narrations on Walkmans, featuring the voice of musician Jason Mraz. The pop-up museum in San Marcos is open through Sept. 22. Photo by Steve Horn