As of late November, the home of the New Old Towne Orange Farmers and Artisans Market, coming in Spring 2011, has been confirmed! Thank You Chapman University! Orange Home Grown, Inc has been working closely with Chapman University to find the perfect lot, dedicated to the market every Saturday from 9am-1pm. We are so pleased to be hosting our market at Chapman University’s Historic Villa Park Orchards Packinghouse lot at the corner of Cypress Ave. and Palm Ave. in Old Towne Orange. With its historic barn and previous agriculture use as a packinghouse, this lot brings old towne charm and community pride. The VPO lot also ties perfectly into promoting our concept of buying local.
The current Villa Park Orchards Packinghouse was originally owned and operated by the Santiago Orange Growers Association (SOGA). In 1918, the SOGA was the largest packing- house operating in Orange. By 1929, the SOGA had increased to 360 grower-members. During that same year, SOGA packed over 820,000 boxes of fruit (2,051 carloads), which brought in $2.8 million on the auction market. In the mid 1930’s the orange industry experienced periods of expansion and retrenchment before the SOGA finally went out of business in 1967.
The Villa Park Orchards Association (VPOA) was established in Villa Park in 1912 when 48 local fruit growers organized to harvest, pack, and market their fruit. In 1967 when the former SOGA packinghouse became available, VPOA moved into the facility. This Orange location handled their overflow fruit from their main location in Villa Park. In 1978, packing operations at the original site in Villa Park ceased and VPOA transferred all of their equipment to their new Orange location.
Chapman University purchased the packinghouse in 2004 and leased the facility back to Villa Park Orchards Association. Packing operations ceased in July 2006 and the plant was vacant. At the time of its closure, the packing house was the sole remaining operating packinghouse in Orange County.
In the 1940’s, Orange County had 65,000 acres in orange groves. Over the years, these groves have been reduced in number and less than 100 acres exist today.