03. Citrus

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    In 1928, Dr. Chandler and the Chandler Improvement Company created the Chandler Heights Citrus District along Hunt Highway east of Chandler.  The company planted 800 acres of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees.  The proximity of the San Tan Mountains and the elevation of the district at 1,450 feet protected the trees from killing frost.  The citrus packing plant at Chandler Heights, pictured above, processed thousands of pounds of citrus.

    The above photograph appeared in a promotional booklet produced by the Chandler Improvement Company touting Chandler’s agricultural potential.  It bragged that Chandler citrus was heavy, juicy, thin-skinned, and richly colored.  The caption which accompanied the photograph read: “The scale tells the story – eight Chandler grapefruit weighing better than a pound apiece.”

    The citrus district offered an opportunity for growers to purchase a small lot with trees already planted on it.  The district worked as a co-operative in which growers elected a board of directors that made decisions for the entire district.  The Chandler District growers ultimately joined Sunkist Growers, Incorporated , a non-profit cooperative of over 6,000 Arizona and California citrus growers.   An unidentified child poses beside a grapefruit tree.  Vera Cooper Smelser and her brother Ned Cooper pose in the picture below in front of rows of citrus trees on their property in Chandler Heights.

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