FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 7, 2012
Contact: Jeannie Gillett, SOOC Coordinator, 714-296-4642
Santa Ana City Council Approves Historic Designation for One of Orange County, California’s Last Orange Orchards
SANTA ANA, CA (June 7, 2012) – The Santa Ana City Council voted 4-1 in favor of placing the Sexlinger orange orchard and farmhouse, a century-old farm, on the Santa Ana Register of Historical Properties at its meeting on June 4, 2012. The designation provides Santa Ana-based Save Our Orchard Coalition with an opportunity to raise the funding needed to acquire the property and preserve it.
The five-acre parcel of land, located at 1584 East Santa Clara Avenue in northeast Santa Ana, is one of the last vestiges of this once thriving agricultural and citrus region. The site retains a modest Craftsman Bungalow built in 1914 and approximately 230 Valencia orange trees that are producing abundant amounts of fresh fruit.
This orchard and home represent the typical family citrus operation, hundreds of which dotted the Orange County landscape from the late 1800’s through the 1940’s. The demand for housing by servicemen returning from WW II prompted the sale and development of large tracts of land and by the 1960’s much of the farm land had disappeared.
“Today, Orange County has less than 80 acres of citrus remaining,” said Jeannie Gillett, Save Our Orchard Coalition Coordinator. “I know of no other property in the entire county that represents our agricultural history like the Sexlinger orchard does. It’s like walking into our past.
During the Santa Ana City Council meeting on June 4, 2012, more than twenty speakers passionately urged the Santa Ana City Council to add this unique, irreplaceable orchard and farmhouse to the City’s Register of Historical Properties on behalf of the Save Our Orchard Coalition. Their vision is to recreate a working citrus farm and develop an urban agricultural center that the entire community can enjoy for years to come.
The landowners, Concordia University in Irvine, California, and Orange Lutheran High School in Orange, California, are working with TAVA Development Company to destroy this historic, 99-year-old site and build a 24 unit single-family housing development in its place.
The City Council’s decision provides the Save Our Orchard Coalition with the gift of time. This grassroots organization must now raise the fair market value of the land and purchase it from the current owners as a first step in realizing this alternative vision for the property. They have approximately eight months to raise the funds.
“By saving the Sexlinger orchard and family home we are preserving a piece of history for Santa Ana, Orange County, and California,” states Gillett. “Now we have our work cut out for us, as we begin the process to raise millions of dollars to keep history alive and create a place that will truly give back to our community in so many ways.”
About the Save Our Orchard Coalition
The Save Our Orchard Coalition is made up of members of the community and aligned organizations working to preserve the historic Sexlinger orange orchard. Support for the Save Our Orchard Coalition has been provided by the Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation. The Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society serves as the sponsoring 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for the Save Our Orchard Coalition. For more information, visit www.saveourorchard.org.
Jeannie Gillett, Coordinator
Save Our Orchard Coalition
Preserving History & Heritage
Promoting Education & Health
Producing Food & Jobs
“Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.”
~ Edward Abbey, 1927 – 1989
“Each generation takes the earth as trustees. We ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.”
~J Sterling Morton, 1832 – 1902, Founder of Arbor Day
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead, 1901 – 1978