Web Extra: Summer Guide Infographic--The Last Orange Groves in Orange County

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Orange County residents have bemoaned the encroachment of suburbia and loss of our orange groves for decades. In 1963's Historical Volume and Reference Works: Including Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens, a three-volume compendium of Orange County history, author Mildred Yorba MacArthur--scion of two pioneering OC families--wrote an essay titled "The Vanishing Orange?" where she called the county "the land of disappearing citrus groves" and longed for the days "when an orange was something to be eaten, not poured from a can." At the time, though, there were still more than 28,000 acres of Valencias left. She held out hope that South County--still largely rural then--might "keep the citrus industry alive for many years."

Behind the jump: See where OC's last orange groves stand. 

That, of course, didn't happen, and while county residents gritted their teeth as orchards turned to tracts, city planners and ranchers didn't do much to preserve their last groves. Today, there are fewer than 80 acres of orange groves remaining in Orange County, nearly all of them far from the public eye (in one case, fenced off in a fenced-off neighborhood), and all existing perilously. Growing oranges is simply not a profitable industry anymore, and lot owners can only stay away from the temptation of developer money for so long before allowing bulldozers to level this fruitful, fragrant, endangered heritage of Orange County.

Following are the most prominent remaining orange groves left in la naranja., with notes for the more . Smaller collections are blotched across our map--some at Hart Park in Orange, near Irvine Valley College, in the deeper reaches of Irvine, and stray houses here and there. These are the historical ones--make this the summer to visit them and reflect on our most fundamental pleasure before it's only possible to remember via the bas-relief pillars on the 22 Freeway.

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9 comments
Elaine C
Elaine C

HI,

Loved the map (but now I read it might not be totally correct) --Wonder if I can get permission to use the art? Also, did you know that the Sexlinger Family Orchard on Santa Clara ave in Santa Ana is in jeopardy of being bulldozed by developers? It is now owned by Concordia University, we've asked them several times for permission to glean the dozens of orange trees (250 in grove), but no answer...We've also asked to discuss other options for this land i.e. urban community teaching garden and preserve the historical orange orchard and family home on the site rather than turning this land over to developers who will destroy this historical parcel of land and build 24 homes in its place...also no answer from Concordia. If people want to help or get involved in a petition save it OC's roots go to www.saveourorchard.org

Matthew Cunningham
Matthew Cunningham

Gustavo: your map is wrong. There is no orange grove in Featherly Regional Park, which is on the other side of the freeway. That grove is on land owned by the OC Flood Control District, and is operated under a lease from the OCFCD.

While there is no orange grove in Featherly, there are orange groves in two other OC Parks facilities: the George Key Ranch in Placentia, and the Irvine Ranch Historic Park in Irvine.

You might want to correct your map so people don't show up at Featherly and wonder where the orange grove went.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Ohhhh...now I get why you keep blurting out Calvito. Sorry, whiny White: I may have a big forehead, but I'm in no danger of losing my hair--ain't even thinning. But why bother with the truth with you...

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

I remember when we would take I-5 to Doheney Beach and it was all citrus groves from the Blimp hangars in Tustin to San Juan Capistrano (Pre-Mission Viejo/Irvine)

Dan Wooldridge
Dan Wooldridge

Gus:  Loved the map, and you mentioned the small groves at W.O. Hart Park (park named after journalist deserves full name--he owned the old Orange Daily News) and at Irvine Valley, but they didn't make it on the map. 

mitch young
mitch young

It is pretty ironic though that the number of orange groves has varied inversely with the number of Mexicans in the county, especially when the discourse over immigration almost always centers on field work -- like orange picking. Even the Pew Hispanic Trust admits that only 20% of illegals are in ag work, and I've seen estimates as low as 5%.

mitch young
mitch young

Every once in a while Calvito produces something worthwhile.

I had Mildred's nephew (I guess) Jamie for CCD way back when. Dirty blond hair.

mitch young
mitch young

Just funning a bit, your little icon picture makes you look like you are well into Sean Connery territory. But hey, even if you were going bald-- lots of real 'Latinos' lose their hair. J. Serra comes to mind, Rudy Guiliani.  Heck, Julius Cesar invented the comb-over.

Jim
Jim

The orange grove is named after former Orange Mayor Robert Hoyt.

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