There was a special section on Carlsbad in the January 1, 1916 edition of the San Diego Union. The focus of the section wasn’t about mineral springs or tourism, but about agriculture. Photos and text commented on how the community’s soil and climate were yielding abundant winter crops.
“Winter tomatoes, cucumber, chili peppers, rhubarb, pes and similar crops mature at ‘off-season’ dates in Carlsbad,” stated one article in the section. “Kitchen gardens in this vicinity have yielded fancy winter vegetables year after year. In fact Carlsbad will compare favorably with the best protected foothill sections—it is a veritable ‘winter garden.’”
The Union also noted an up-and-coming crop in the local fields, so new they had to refer to it by two names: “During the last five years the avocado (alligator pear) has held a commanding postion in the limelight with Southern California orchardists. Being of tropical origin, it is extremely sensible to extreme heat or cold. Carlbad has been pronounced the ideal spot to raise this fruit. S. Thompson, one of the first citrus men in the state to take up the avocado as a commercial proposition, is now setting out an orchard of eighteen acres. An adjoining tract, eight acres, is being used as a nursery, for avocado trees.”
In a few years Sam Thompson would help found the Carlsbad Avocado Growers Club. In October, 1923 the club sponsored the first Avocado Day, which became an annual event in the town until the eve of World War II. Avocados would be a major crop in Carlsbad until the late 1940s.
Sources for this post included historic San Diego County newspapers, the 1994 book, Carlsbad: The Village by the Sea, by Charles Wesley Orton, and the 1982 book, Seekers of the Spring: A History of Carlsbad, by Marje Howard-Jones.
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