Creating an Orange Utopia
Eliza Lovell Tibbets and the Birth of California’s Citrus Industry
By Patricia Ortlieb and Peter Economy
Eliza Lovell Tibbets (1825-1898) planted the two navel orange trees that would become the parents for vast groves of navel oranges, leading California to become one of the top orange producers in the world. Read more
Paperback and e-book, 136 pages
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California’s citrus industry owes a huge debt to the introduction of the navel orange tree—in fact, to two trees in particular, the parent trees of the vast groves of navel oranges that exist in California today. Those trees were planted by a woman named Eliza Lovell Tibbets.
Born in Cincinnati in1823, Eliza’s Swedenborgian faith informed her ideals. Surrounded by artists and free thinkers, her personal journey took her first to New York City, then south to create a better environment for newly freed slaves in racially divided Virginia, and onward to Washington, DC, where she campaigned for women’s rights. But it was in California where she left her true mark, launching an agricultural boom that changed the course of California’s history.
Eliza’s story of faith and idealism will appeal to anyone who is curious about US history, women’s rights, abolitionism, Spiritualism, and California’s early pioneer days. Follow Eliza through loves and fortunes lost and found until she finally finds her paradise in a little town called Riverside.
“Co-written by the great-great-granddaughter of Eliza Lovell Tibbets, Creating an Orange Utopia: Eliza Lovell Tibbets and the Birth of California’s Citrus Industry is the amazing true story of how one pioneer woman’s determination brought navel oranges as an agricultural crop to California. With two “parent” navel oranges, Eliza transformed the economy, livelihood, and lives of the town of Riverside, California. Creating an Orange Utopiatells of the challenges she faced in her journey west, her efforts to support the women’s movements and the abolition of slavery, and much more. Highly recommended, especially for California history shelves.”
—Midwest Book Review/California Bookwatch: August 2011
“Well-written and thoroughly researched, this is a wonderful book for students and others interested in learning about the beginnings of the citrus industry in Riverside, CA, and about a great woman who was an ardent American Spiritualist and abolitionist. It’s time that Eliza Tibbets is recognized for her great contribution to CA history . . . In the case of Eliza Tibbets, due to her desire to find a marketable crop for her family and Riverside, due to her vision and diligence, and due also to her “feminine” ability to nurture living things—in this case little saplings—she altered the course of history in a positive and lucrative manner. Navel oranges brought great wealth to Riverside, and the citrus industry expanded into new towns such as Redlands, Tustin, Corona, and Pomona, dramatically changing the landscape and the course of CA history.”
—Suko’s Notebook blogspot, September 21, 2011