On the frontlines, field workers are helping feed us during the COVID-19 pandemic and we’d like to give a shout out to all of those who are working in the fields. Share a message of gratitude in the comments below.

The Limoneira Company, founded by Wallace L. Hardison and Nathan W. Blanchard in 1893, became the first large-scale citrus grower in Ventura County. It started out on 431 acres of land but quickly grew to the size of 2,731 acres and 25 employees in 1907. It was soon touted as the “world’s largest lemon ranch.” Today, the company has over 7,000 acres in agricultural production, including crops other than lemons. Besides, Limoneira, many other citrus companies were founded in Ventura County around 1900 including Ventura Pacific, Fillmore Citrus Association, Saticoy Lemon Association and Oxnard Lemon Company.

The earliest citrus workers were Chinese, Mexican and Anglo men. By 1900 much of the labor force was made up of Japanese men. The cutoff of Japanese male labor immigration after 1909 and a labor shortage after World War I caused citrus growers to seek a new source of labor which they found in Mexican and Mexican-American families. Over the decades, the labor force diversified, and yet Mexican and Mexican-American families still constitute the majority of citrus workers in the fields and packing houses. 

Archival Photos: Museum of Ventura County Research Library & Archive. Contemporary Packing House Image: Thank you to the Farm Bureau of Ventura County and it’s SLA (Saticoy Lemon Association) packing house. Contemporary Field Workers Photo: Thank you to Leavens Ranch.

Continue the conversation by using the links below.

Check out our connections page for more