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Remembering the Valley's Citrus Empire Speaker Meeting

Thursday, May 23rd at 7:00 p.m. - at the Andres Pico Adobe.

Join us at the Andres Pico Adobe for a presentation on the citrus industry in the San Fernando Valley. Before the housing tracts, malls and freeways, the San Fernando Valley was home to a thriving citrus industry that in its heyday covered 15,000 acres. From the early 1920s to the late 1950s, oranges were grown and packed in harvested for local consumption as well as the rest of the country. Packing houses located in San Fernando, Pacoima, Reseda and Owensmouth (which was later renamed Canoga Park), processed the local oranges, mostly Valencias.

Oranges in California date back two centuries to the Spanish missionaries who first brought the seeds. The first California orchard was planted at the San Gabriel Mission in 1804, followed in 1840 by the first commercial orange grove in what is now downtown Los Angeles.

The citrus industry in the Valley hit its peak in the 1930s. By the end of World War II, the housing boom began squeeze out the orange groves . New homeowners, while fond of the fragrant scent of the orange blossoms, did not appreciate the manure and tractors that went along with the groves. As a result of infringing development, yields declined while the asfarmland became more valuable as residential housing. By the early 1970s, only 350 acres of orange groves remained. Today, only a handful of groves are left, totaling about 40 acres.

Excerpts taken from Squeezed Out: Remembering the Valley's Orange Empire in the Los Angeles Times.


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