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.
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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.
Click to enlarge!