Oranges –

The orange was introduced into Europe from China, the Malta, Portugal or common Orange (citrus sinensis) is now cultivated extensively.  A grove of glossy-leaved, healthy citrus fruit trees, with its wealth of golden fruit, is a joy to behold.  The blossoms appear in February and again in June, filling the air with exquisite perfume.  In February it is not an uncommon sight to see the golden oranges and the waxy white blossoms on the trees at the same time.

The Valencia ripens from April to November, is lighter in color, more oblong and not entirely seedless.  The fruit of this tree does not ripen until a year or more after it blossoms.  In the spring, both ripe fruit and blossoms can be seen on the tree at the same time.

When the trees are planted, they are generally pruned back to about 18 to 20 inches to assure low branching.  Low-branched trees are the easiest to handle when the fruits are gathered.  After the trees have become established, they are thinned out so as to leave only four or five branches for framework.  The sun must always be allowed to penetrate to the center of the tree.

The bane of the grove is the frost that creeps in on a clear night.  If the night is cloudy, the trees are not so apt to be injured if the temperature goes down; but on a clear night, if the mercury drops, then the smudge pots must be lighted.  Generally these are just low fires built on the ground throughout the grove, which must be kept smoldering all through the night.  It is the smoke that protects the trees.  Sometimes the fires are built in metal containers.  The fuel may be bamboo, roots, dead branches, pine knots or palmetto stalks.

The fruit is picked by professionals, from November to April.  It is cut from the tree with pruning shears, loaded into trucks, and taken to the packing house.  There it is placed upon racks.  The fruit rolls from the rack into a hot water bath in which there may be a solution of borax, and is thoroughly scrubbed with a rotary brush, then rolled into the drying machine, where a vapor wax envelops each piece of fruit.  It is polished with an 18-foot horsehair polisher, and passed over a wide belt where graders examine it and separate it into classes according to grade requirements.  The oranges that pass muster go into the sizer, from which the smallest ones drop first, and the largest, last.  The fruit is usually wrapped individually before being packed in boxes for shipment.  Oranges are graded as U.S. Fancy, the top grade, U.S. No. 1 and then unclassified.

Oranges of the best quality are firm and heavy, have a fine-textured skin for their variety, and are well-colored.  Such fruits (even with a few surface blemishes, such as scares, scratches and slight discolorations) are much to be preferred to oranges that have badly creased skin or are puffy or spongy and light in weight.

From The Encyclopedia Of Cookery, Wm. H. Wise & Co., Inc., 1948

Planning Commission Meeting Set for Monday, February 10, 2014

The Sexlinger Farmhouse & Orchard Development Project is scheduled to be heard at the Santa Ana Planning Commission meeting this Monday.

Here are the details:
Santa Ana Planning Commission Meeting
Monday, February 10, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Santa Ana City Council Chambers
22 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana, California

Link to the Planning Commission Agenda and Staff Report:

Link to Planning Commissioners & their email address:

We hope to see you at the meeting to show your support for the preservation of the historic Sexlinger Farmhouse and Orange Orchard.  It is the last of its kind in Santa Ana — an intact example of the agricultural past that was once so common in Orange County and southern California.

Thank you for your support.

“Historic Preservation Alternative” Added to the EIR, Destroys 95% of the Historic Orchard Complex

The process will, once again, be in motion after several months of no action. The city has developed another alternative for the Environmental Impact Report (EIR). They call it the “Historic Preservation Alternative” even though it calls for 95% of the historic orchard to be destroyed.

The description in the EIR is as follows…

“… The Historic Preservation Alternative is similar to the proposed project except that it would keep in place the existing residential structure and garage located on an approximately 10,044 square foot lot on the northwest corner of the property. The exterior of the residential structure and garage would be rehabilitated to Secretary of the Interior historic preservation standards, and the home and garage would be returned to single family residential use per building code requirements for habitable structures. Subsequently, the home would be available for sale for residential use. Approximately ten orange trees currently exist in this portion of the property. Additional orange trees would be planted in order to fill out the orchard, and any dead trees would be removed and be replaced with new orange trees.
Twenty-two new single family residences would be developed on the remaining areas of the property, …”

The Historic Preservation Alternative describes a 23-unit housing development, instead of the original proposal of 24 houses, essentially destroying this historically designated and rare property. Carbon sequestration concerns are also addressed in the Historic Preservation Alternative. This additional information – the Historic Preservation Alternative and carbon sequestration issues – are in response to public comments and are not considered “new” information. As such, the city is not required to allow for a public review period of this additional information. This development plan is scheduled for a public hearing at the Tuesday, February 4, 2014 City Council meeting. TOOC would appreciate your written comments on this new alternative as they will be part of the public record if they are received by the City before the EIR is certified by the Council (most likely at the 2/4/14 meeting). In order for your comments to be included in the staff report on this item, they must be received by Vince Fregoso by Friday, January 17, 2014.

Please send comments, write to your council member, attend the meeting, spread the word. As always, TOOC is grateful for your support. Thank you.

Vince Fregoso –
City Council –
EIR – additional info –

Sexlinger Development Project Public Hearing Date Postponed Again

Just a quick update about the Santa Ana City Council meeting and the Sexlinger Development Project. The September 3 date has been postponed again. We will post information about the new date when we have a confirmation from the City.

Thank you to all who have supported us over the last 2-1/2+ years. I know it may be frustrating to have delay after delay. We continue to work towards the goal of purchasing the property. At the same time we are working with the city staff to ensure that the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) has those elements required by CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) for historic properties.

Thank you for your patience and support. Check here or our Face Book page for updates.

Public Hearing Date Change – Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The hearing date for the Sexlinger Development Proposal has been postponed once again. The new tentative date is Tuesday, September 3, 2013. We will post details about location and time if this date holds.

In the mean time:
~ “like” us on Face Book
~ send your tax deductible donation today – see the Donations tab for details
~ join our team of dedicated community members working to save this historic orchard and farmhouse – email Jeannie at

Thank you for your patience and support.  We look forward to seeing you at the meeting when the fate of the historic Sexlinger Orchard and Farmhouse will be decided upon by the Santa Ana City Council.

Public Hearing Date Change to Monday 08/05/2013

The Old Orchard Conservancy and the owners, Orange Lutheran High School and Concordia University Irvine, are in negotiations for a purchase of the Sexliinger Farmhouse and Orange Orchard.  While we continue our negotiations, the City has rescheduled the public hearing for this item.  The tentative date for consideration by the Santa Ana City Council of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR), the Tentative Tract Map (TTM) and the variances associated with the TTM and the recommendations by the Historic Resources Commission is set for Monday, August 5, 2013 at 5:45 PM.  We will post a link to the agenda for the meeting when it is available.

Please mark your calendars and check our site for updates.  Thank you for your continued support.

City Council Meeting Date & EIR Update

Here is a reminder that there has been an update to the City Council Meeting date for the Sexlinger Farmhouse and Orange Orchard Development Project.  There has been another delay and the previously scheduled public hearing of Monday, June 3, 2013 has been changed.

The meeting is now tentatively set for Monday, July 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM.  Since we are currently in talks with the property owners of the Sexlinger Orchard site, we anticipate that further delays may be possible.

Although the City is not currently revising the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Sexlinger Farmhouse and Orange Orchard Development Project, we have been assured that the Old Orchard Conservancy will be notified if and when changes are made to the EIR. If there are changes that require any type of public notification prior to City Council review, we will let you know how to access the document and where to send your comments.

Quick Planning Commission Meeting Update

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to give you a quick update about the Planning Commission meeting from February 11, 2013. It was an interesting evening of interaction between the Planning Commissioners and representatives from both sides of the development issue. The Conservancy was first to present comments. Our stance involved the inadequacies of the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) from the stand point of the lack of preservation alternatives and mitigation measures and the illegal aspects of the variances needed for two of the lots that have less-than-required street frontage. The owners, of course, felt that City staff had done a fine job on the FEIR and were hopeful that the Commissioners would agree and move the project forward with a recommendation “for development” to the City Council. The main objective of the owners (Orange Lutheran High School & Concordia University Irvine), as stated at the meeting, is to “monetize the asset.” The Commissioners, however, were not in agreement. Some of the Commissioners had concerns about the FEIR and wanted it to go back to staff, others had concerns about a two-story development being built in a one-story neighborhood. There were other concerns about the development as well. Two comments were especially disappointing to hear from some of the Commissioners. The first was that a couple of the commissioners were not that familiar with reading and understanding EIRs and second was about property rights.  Understanding an EIR would seem to be a basic function of a Planning Commissioner as well as the fact that we are going through a process afforded any member of the public – that is to have input on any development that will affect our lives – property rights are not in question here.

Now to the vote — they were split 3-3. In a tie situation, the property owner has the choice of returning to the Planning Commission in hopes of a different outcome on the vote or forwarding a recommendation of denial of the project on to the City Council. The owner chose to move the item forward to the City Council. Even though it is not a majority vote for denial, it is a denial and that is important.

There have been various delays is getting this to the City Council since the Planning Commission vote in February. The latest information we have is that the public hearing for the Sexlinger Farmhouse and Orchard Development Project will go before the City Council on Monday, July 1, 2013 at 5:45. We will keep you posted on updates and links to the agenda as they become available.

Thank you for your support. Your comments and questions are welcome!

Historic Resources Commission says Santa Ana should Purchase the Orchard

Good news everyone! The Historic Resources Commission (HRC) passed a resolution to “… urge the City Council to purchase the Sexlinger Property…” Our next hurdle will be the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, February 11, 2013 in the City Council Chambers. Hope to see you all there. Thank you so much for all of those who came out in support of preservation and thank you to the HRC and the Planning Department staff for all of your hard work!

Here is a link to an article about the HRC meeting on Thursday 1/24 written by Ron Gonzales of the Orange County Register.