In the afternoon of September 12th at the Bocce Ball Courts in Santa Paula, CA, Limoneira celebrated 125 years of international prominence that initially grew out from the idiosyncratic Santa Paula, a.k.a. the “Citrus Capital of the World.” Limoneira has stayed loyal to its roots, and the citrus agribusiness, which has an impressive collection of retail operations and real-estate development, still very much considers Santa Paula to be its homebase. Certainly, the mutually symbiotic relationship, which is founded on the utmost respect, characterized the all-smiles occasion.
Limoneira’s board members and supporters throughout the Ventura County gathered outside in the delightful Southern California sun, amid the lushly verdant foliage and resplendently rustic horizon, to pay homage to the company’s history and hopeful outlook.
Attendees hobnobbed as they imbibed wine, beer, and cocktails directly inspired by Limoneira’s top-notch produce, as they watched and listened to Los Angeles-based crooner, Luca Ellis, who successfully channeled the spirit of Frank Sinatra and more. Soon, they took their seats at a multitude of dining tables arrayed around a podium that saw a procession of speeches that took the audience back to 1893 through the present day.
The guests also enjoyed a delicious dinner comprised of prime certified Angus ribeye steaks, shrimp skewers, grilled lemon asparagus — and for dessert, chipotle dark chocolate brownies and Limoneria lemon bars — as descendants and champions of the lemon, orange, and avocado empire chronicled Limoneira’s story. Being no surprise to the region’s history buffs, the humble juggernaut’s journey emanated from a fruitful partnership between Wallace Hardison and Nathan Weston Blanchard, who first purchased 413 acres of land.
Hardison’s beginnings were rife with entrepreneurial and gold-rushing spirit, and for Blanchard, the founder of Santa Paula and a citrus cultivator, prosperity similarly came early before he lost it all at age 50, prior to turning it around again with handsome-yielding groves. C. C. Teague’s arrival as the first general manager in 1901 was also monumental for he brought some outside-the-box thinking on farming that set the tone for Limoneira as the vanguard of the citrus suppliers.
Forward-thinking in its announcement of a “One World of Fresh Citrus” that is hoping to connect with approximately 4.8 billion middle-class consumers around the world by 2030, Limoneria is intent on always bringing individuals together by way of its honorable and ethical approach to not only the global citrus marketplace, but its grateful host, Santa Paula.
Indeed, how altruistic Limoneira has been to the city is a widely shared sentiment, which was proudly echoed by Santa Paula’s mayor, Ginger Gherardi.
“Limoneira is the heart and soul of Santa Paula. They’re the first to step up, whether it’s for the Santa Paula Police, the school unification program, or the Santa Paula Art Museum. While they’re an international company, this is home. In the immortal words of Judy Garland, ‘there’s no place like home.’”
Undoubtedly, Limoneira’s 125 years of business marks a milestone that its President and CEO since 2004, Harold Edwards, is overjoyed about, as he looks toward an even brighter future for the organization.
“We had a week-long celebration when it was a 100 years, we’re having a dinner tonight, and we’ll see you for the 150th!”
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