A hundred years ago, California citrus was described as a “second gold rush.” It helped shape the state’s prosperity and identity. Millions of orange trees once grew in Orange County — but only a few remain.
When the name Orange County was first proposed, there weren’t very many oranges. Most locals were growing grapes and raising hogs, but in an effort to better promote the area, the county looked to oranges. The name became official in 1889. Migrants poured in, and many planted small citrus groves. Around 1900, oranges became the county’s main crop. Millions of orange trees were planted.
But as the popularity rose, land got expensive and trees had to go to make room for tract houses and the oranges began to disappear.
Independent Producer Daniel Gross visited some of the small remaining privately owned orchards to get a sense of where our oranges used to come from (and how sweet they still taste).