A while back I wrote about Vista billing itself as “Avocado Capital of the World,” (see “Vista’s Rose Parade Moment,” Feb. 2, 2014) while also noting that the title got passed around a lot of San Diego County communities over the years. Here’s an example:
A report in the Dec. 13, 1923 issue of the Oceanside Blade, datelined Carlsbad, stated that “Avocado culture is now [Carlsbad’s] foremost industry and is fast placing vegetables and small fruit growing in the background…”
Earlier that year the Carlsbad Avocado Growers Club had been formed. In October, 1923 the club sponsored the first Avocado Day. Among the day’s events was, according to a local newspaper article, a “seven-course avocado dinner.”
From “Avocado Cocktail” to the desserts of cake and “Ice Cream a la Carlsbad,” all the items were “composed of avocados prepared by Carlsbad ladies, under supervision of Sam Thompson, Chef.” Thompson was one of the original cultivators of avocados in Carlsbad, planting the first groves there in 1916.
Avocado Day would become a regular October event in Carlsbad until the eve of World War II, and avocados would be a major crop in the city until the late 1940s. Then a postwar building boom made it more lucrative to sell the groves for housing rather than for their fruit. But some growers still found crops that proved commercially viable enough to keep working the land. Prominent among them was Luther Gage, a Montebello nurseryman who planted gladioli, freesias, ranunculi and anemones on five acres at Tamarack and Jefferson. This marked Carlsbad’s transition from avocado fields to flower fields.
Sources for this post included historic San Diego County newspapers and the 1994 book, Carlsbad: The Village by the Sea, written by Charles Wesley Orton for the Carlsbad Historical Society.
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