A taste of the Lemon Festival in Chula Vista!

A giant smiling lemon greets me at the 22nd Annual Lemon Festival in Chula Vista!
A giant smiling lemon greets me at the 22nd Annual Lemon Festival in Chula Vista!

I’ve never been to Chula Vista’s Lemon Festival before. So this year I thought I’d take the trolley down to the South Bay to experience this big annual event!

Not only is the Lemon Festival, which takes place along a stretch of Third Avenue, a whole lot of fun, but visitors have the opportunity to learn about the history of Chula Vista and how it once was a major center of the Southern California citrus industry.

With construction of the Sweetwater Dam completed in 1888, and the arrival of the railroad in the South Bay, Chula Vista became the perfect place to grow sun-loving lemons. At one point in the early 20th century there were nearly two thousand acres of lemon groves in the area. Chula Vista even called itself the Lemon Capital of the World.

Today lemon trees are chiefly found in backyards. After World War II, the large groves began to make way for houses. Some of the developers would leave one lemon tree in the backyard of new homes.

I did see loads of lemons during the 22nd Annual Lemon Festival: lemon art, lemon costumes, lemons in treats, lemonade . . . Lemon yellow everywhere!

See for yourself!

About 50,000 people would turn out for the yearly lemon-themed event.
About 50,000 people would turn out for the yearly lemon-themed event.
These ladies had all sorts of sweet lemon treats for sale.
These ladies had all sorts of sweet lemon treats for sale.
Some friendly people from the Restored Church posed so that a blogger could take a funny photo at their booth.
Some friendly people from the Restored Church posed so that a blogger could take a funny photo at their Lemon Festival booth.
Artists at the Lemon Festival had all sorts of colorful artwork for sale that contained bright yellow.
Artists at the Lemon Festival had all sorts of colorful artwork for sale that contained bright yellow.
This lady registering people to vote had a cool lemon slice umbrella hat and smile.
This lady registering people to vote had a cool lemon slice umbrella hat and smile.
More ice cold lemonade! Sounds good on a hot summer day in San Diego's South Bay.
More ice cold lemonade! Sounds good on a hot summer day in San Diego’s South Bay.
Even this funny pooch in a wagon was selling lemonade!
Even this funny pooch in a wagon was selling lemonade!
The Chula Vista Historical Society had a booth with books and fascinating information.
The Chula Vista Historical Society had a booth with books and fascinating information.
Their display showed Chula Vista's agricultural past. Many packing companies once exported lemons around the world.
Their display showed Chula Vista’s agricultural past. Many growers and packing companies once exported lemons around the world. Some of the beautiful old crate labels have become valuable collectibles.
The display explains different grades of lemons, including culls, which were blemished, and used to make juice, furniture polish, and other by-products.
The display explains different grades of lemons, including culls, which were blemished, and used to make juice, furniture polish, and other lemon by-products.
The festival had just started and these ladies with the Third Avenue Village Association, that puts on the popular event, were putting the finishing touches on their booth.
The festival had just started and these ladies with the Third Avenue Village Association, that puts on the popular event, were almost done decorating their booth.
Another booth at the Lemon Festival had lots of old historical photographs.
Another booth at the Chula Vista Lemon Festival featured lots of interesting historical photographs.
Someone points to a photo of workers in a lemon grove at the Higgins Ranch in Keen Valley, 1901.
Someone points to a photo of workers in a lemon grove at the Higgins Ranch in Keen Valley, 1901.
Aerial photo of the Boltz lemon ranch in the mid 1920's.
Aerial photo of the Boltz lemon ranch in the mid 1920’s.
Typical Chula Vista lemon packing plant, circa 1920's.
Typical Chula Vista lemon packing plant, circa 1920’s.
Old photos of Chula Vista streetcar and train at Third Avenue.
Old photos of Chula Vista streetcar and train at Third Avenue.
Bonita lemon pickers, 1913.
Bonita lemon pickers, 1913.
Meanwhile, people spin a lemon-themed prize wheel at the festival.
Meanwhile, people spin a lemon-themed prize wheel at the festival.
At the Lemonade Bandstand, entertainment included live music, a largest lemon and lemon peel contest, a lemon costume contest, and lemon pie eating contest.
At the Lemonade Bandstand, entertainment included live music, a largest lemon and lemon peel contest, a lemon costume contest, and lemon pie eating contest.
People watch the Lemon Squeezers play rock and roll music with a twist!
People watch the Lemon Squeezers play rock and roll music with a twist!
Cool local band, the Lemon Squeezers, at the Chula Vista Lemon Festival.
Cool local band, the Lemon Squeezers, at the Chula Vista Lemon Festival.
That great music has people dancing!
That great music has people smiling and dancing!
Batman and Wonder Woman dropped on by and posed for a photo by the Lemon Bar sign.
Batman and Wonder Woman dropped on by and posed for a photo by the Lemon Bar sign.
All that fun made me thirsty for some lemonade!
All that fun has made me thirsty for some lemonade!

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Art and history at Lemon Grove Trolley Depot!

An enormous yellow lemon welcomes travelers passing through the heart of Lemon Grove, a community east of downtown San Diego.
An enormous yellow lemon welcomes travelers passing through the heart of Lemon Grove, a community east of downtown San Diego.

Step off an Orange Line trolley at the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot and you’re in for a surprise! On either side of the trolley station are several fun installations of public art. Signs also describe the unique agricultural history of Lemon Grove, which today is a sunny suburban community east of downtown San Diego.

I cruised into the trolley station last weekend to explore the immediate area. Of course, I had to direct my feet toward the big iconic lemon, which stands directly across the street from the depot, at the intersection of Broadway and Lemon Grove Avenue. The 3000 pound lemon was originally created in 1928 as a proud civic float for San Diego’s big Fourth of July parade. It was afterward turned into a permanent monument with a generous application of plaster!

Read the photo captions to learn a little bit more about fascinating Lemon Grove!

The Lemon Grove Trolley Depot is a 1986 replica of the original 1895 train depot, which stood near the Lemon Grove Store and a fruit-packing shed.
The Lemon Grove Trolley Depot is a 1986 replica of the original 1895 train depot, which stood near the Lemon Grove Store and a fruit-packing shed.
The city of Lemon Grove boasts the Best Climate on Earth! I spotted this sign at a nearby bus stop.
The city of Lemon Grove boasts the Best Climate on Earth! I spotted this sign at a nearby bus stop.
Fun street art near the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot provides tasty advice for those times when life gives you lemons...
Fun street art near the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot provides tasty advice for those times when life gives you lemons…
...make lemonade!
…make lemonade!
Or a lemon cupcake!
Or a lemon cupcake!
A walkway between the Celsius residential building and the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot contains tile mosaic lemon slices!
A walkway between the Celsius residential building and the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot contains tile mosaic lemon slices!
What appears to be wind-driven public artwork near Celsius and the trolley station generates electricity.
What appears to be a tall, shiny sculpture near Celsius and the trolley station rotates in the wind and generates electricity.
Colorful tiles radiate at the base of the rotating, wind-driven blades.
Colorful tiles radiate at the base of the rotating windmill.
People wait for an Orange Line trolley at the Lemon Grove station. The original structure had an open cupola so the depot agent could wave signal flags at oncoming trains.
People wait for an Orange Line trolley at the Lemon Grove station. The original structure had an open cupola so the depot agent could wave signal flags at oncoming trains.
A farm's windmill and tractor are reminders of an agricultural past. They stand in a public park beside the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot.
A farm’s windmill and tractor are artistic reminders of an agricultural past. They stand in the promenade beside the Lemon Grove Trolley Depot.
Both sides of this fun public art tractor are composed of small tiles.
Both sides of this fun public art tractor are composed of small tiles.
A nearby bench in the park appears like a crate once used by the Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association!
A creative bench in the public promenade. It appears like crates that were used by the Lemon Grove Fruit Growers Association!
A sign near the depot shows the old Lemon Grove Store, circa 1900. The store provided supplies for nearby ranches, contained the post office, and was a community gathering place.
A sign near the depot shows the old Lemon Grove Store, circa 1900. The store provided supplies for nearby ranches, contained the post office, and was a community gathering place.
Another sign contains a view of Lemon Grove orchards looking towards Mount Miguel across the McTear Orchard in 1910.
Another sign contains a view of Lemon Grove orchards looking towards Mount Miguel across the McTear Orchard in 1910.
Old photo of the Sonka Store in 1912. The building eventually became the Grove Pastry Shop.
Old photo of the Sonka Store in 1912. The building eventually became the Grove Pastry Shop.
Old photo shows the Lemon Grove float during the San Diego parade in 1920. The parade celebrated the opening of John D. Spreckels' railway, which ran where the trolley runs today.
Old photo shows the Lemon Grove float during the San Diego parade in 1920. The parade celebrated the opening of John D. Spreckels’ railway, which existed where the trolley runs today.
Another sign features a photo of local women working in the packing house during the Great Depression. During peak season 2-3 railroad cars would be packed with lemons per day.
Another sign features a photo of local women working in the packing house during the Great Depression. During peak season, two or three railroad cars would be loaded full of lemons per day.
The historical legacy of Lemon Grove is remembered around the site of the old train depot, which is now a stop of the San Diego Trolley.
The historical legacy of Lemon Grove is remembered around the site of the old train depot, which is now a stop of the San Diego Trolley.
Lemons have a history of thriving in Lemon Grove, a community that claims to have the Best Climate on Earth!
Lemons have a history of thriving in Lemon Grove, a community that claims to have the Best Climate on Earth!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Refugee students learn job skills at city farm!

Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!
Refugee high school students grow and sell vegetables in North Park. They are Youth FarmWorks interns receiving a helping hand from the International Rescue Committee!

I was walking around North Park yesterday when I stumbled upon a small farm on a dirt lot north of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. I crossed 30th Street to see what was going on, and noticed a bunch of youth working the soil, and sitting at a table selling vegetables!

It turns out these super friendly new San Diego residents are refugees attending local high schools. As Youth FarmWorks interns they are learning job skills and gaining confidence in their new country. This urban farming project was created by the International Rescue Committee, which helps refugees adjust to life in the United States, where they are safe and free from persecution.

I was given a tour of the small farm by a super cool young man–he’s the guy who gave me a thumbs up in that first photo! He showed me the various vegetables they were growing, including different types of lettuce, beets, squash, cherry tomatoes, and much more. My tour was awesome!

Good luck to everyone!

Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works - Job Training Urban Farm.
Sign by the large vegetable garden reads Youth Farm Works – Job Training Urban Farm.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Many large planters contain all sorts of growing vegetables.
Kids at work on the urban farm.
Students at work on the urban farm.
A very cool smile!
A very cool smile!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A walk around the the Sikes Adobe Farmhouse.

Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.
Photo of the rustic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse on a sunny November day.

This morning I drove up to Escondido. One highlight of my day was walking around the historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse, which is located near a popular trailhead of the San Dieguito River Park’s long, not-yet-complete Coast to Crest Trail.

The Sikes Adobe, built around 1870, is a City of San Diego historic site. It contains a museum which is open every Sunday. Also on Sundays, the farmstead is where the North San Diego Certified Farmers Market is held.

As I walked around Sikes Adobe, I happened upon some interpretive signs which explain the history of the farmstead. I took photos if you’re interested. Click those sign images and they will expand for easy reading.

People had very different lives long ago in California. Fresh air, hard work, quiet hours, simple pleasures. And wild, untrod paths. I believe I would have loved that life.

The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The historic Sikes Adobe Farmhouse is located near a trailhead of the Coast to Crest Trail, just east of Lake Hodges.
The trail past the old farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
The trail past the farmstead is popular with hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
A sign shows proposed improvements to the Sikes Adobe Historic Farmstead Park, including event space and a reconstructed barn.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the simple farmhouse.
Scarecrows stand guard inside a community garden near the rustic farmhouse.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Approaching the Sikes Adobe. One can tour the inside on Sundays, from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
In this photo you can see the small creamery building and the base of the restored windmill.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
A simple adobe house, typical of the early American era, shortly after California had achieved statehood.
View of the farmstead from the nearby trail.
View of the farmstead structures from the nearby trail.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
Zenas and Eliza Sikes, with six children, arrived in 1870 and began their wheat farm here between the communities of Escondido and Rancho Bernardo.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
A small vegetable garden near the restored windmill and creamery.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Old rusty farm equipment in a corner of the farmstead.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California's first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
Between 1860 and 1893, wheat was California’s first bonanza crop. The creamery at Sikes Farm was built in the 1880s as their farm diversified and became more generalized.
A town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
A small town called Bernardo used to be located a couple miles southeast of the Sikes Adobe. The construction of the Lake Hodges Dam spelled the end for that town.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Looking from the nearby trail past prickly pears at the farmhouse.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead's dirt parking lot.
Some horses have arrived at the trailhead’s dirt parking lot.
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
Sikes Adobe depends on your support. Become a docent or volunteer!
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.
The Sikes Adobe Farmhouse rises behind a row of green grape vines.

This blog now features thousands of photos around San Diego! Are you curious? There’s lots of cool stuff to check out!

Here’s the Cool San Diego Sights main page, where you can read the most current blog posts.  If you’re using a small mobile device, click those three parallel lines up at the top–that opens up my website’s sidebar, where you’ll see the most popular posts, a search box, and more!

To enjoy future posts, you can also “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Tile mosaics show Hispanic life, culture and history.

Scenes of Hispanic life, culture and history decorate benches and seats at a San Diego Trolley station.
Mosaic scenes of Hispanic life, culture and history decorate benches and seats at a San Diego Trolley station.

In Logan Heights, the 25th and Commercial Street station of the San Diego Trolley’s Orange Line features public art at both it’s east and west platforms. A week or so ago, I enjoyed looking at colorful mosaics made of tiles on the base of various concrete seats and curving benches. The small mosaics depict Hispanic life, culture and history. There are abstract scenes of immigrants working in fields or in construction, of family at home, and of organized activism.

I took these photos at the eastbound platform. The mosaics are part of a project titled Achievement / Progress / Community: In the Spirit of Cesar E. Chavez that was completed in 2006. The mosaics were created by artist John Hiemstra. The trolley stop is dedicated to civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

Photo along length of 25th and Commercial Street trolley station of the Orange Line. This is the eastbound platform.
Photo along length of 25th and Commercial Street trolley station of the Orange Line. This is the eastbound platform.
This small tile mosaic scene features a red trolley in front of downtown's Santa Fe Depot.
A small tile mosaic scene features a red trolley in front of downtown’s Santa Fe Depot.
Hispanic family at home around a table laden with food.
A family at home around a table laden with food.
Migrant workers appear to be planting seeds in a field.
Migrant workers planting seeds in a field.
Mosaic shows a ranch in a Southern California landscape.
Mosaic shows what appears to be a ranch in a Southern California landscape.
Farm worker seems to be harvesting tomatoes or strawberries.
Farm worker is harvesting tomatoes or strawberries.
Saguaro cacti in a Southwestern scene.
Saguaro cacti in a Southwestern scene.
Beautiful abstract mosaic. Tiles of different colors, sizes and shapes.
Beautiful abstract mosaic. Tiles of different colors, sizes and shapes.
Hispanic workers build a wall.
Hispanic workers build a wall.
A laborer hard at work.
A laborer hard at work.
Two figures stand near automobiles on a highway.
Two figures stand near automobiles on a highway.
A diverse group appears to hold up signs in a protest.
A diverse group appears to hold up signs in a protest.
A priest and an activist.
A priest and an activist.
Hispanic youth together, perhaps students. Another scene of life, learning, hope, struggle.
Hispanic youth together, perhaps students. Another scene of life, learning, hope, struggle.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to share and enjoy!

Holiday fun at the new SMARTS Farm in East Village!

People check out many planters full of vegetables and flowers at the new SMARTS Farm in East Village.
People check out many planters full of vegetables and flowers at the new SMARTS Farm in East Village.

Today I walked to East Village in downtown San Diego to check out a holiday event at SMARTS Farm. I didn’t realize that this cool community garden had recently moved. Their new and improved location is at the corner of 13th Street and Broadway.

At SMARTS Farm, anybody is welcome to become an urban gardener–growing flowers or vegetables in the heart of our sunny city. Downtown residents can relax here, kids can learn about farming, botany and nature, and I believe photography classes are still offered.

If you’re ever downtown, swing on by to see for yourself!

SMARTS Farm in San Diego's East Village is a community garden where hearts can grow and minds thrive.
SMARTS Farm in San Diego’s East Village is a community garden where hearts can grow and minds thrive.
A wreath is hung on the barn inside SMARTS Farm to celebrate the holiday season. They've moved to a new location and are open to everyone in the community!
A wreath is hung on the barn inside SMARTS Farm to celebrate the holiday season. They’ve moved to a new location and are open to everyone in the community!
Someone makes a wreath the week before Christmas during a special SMARTS Farm holiday event.
Someone makes a wreath the week before Christmas during a special SMARTS Farm holiday event.
These guys were rolling out yummy pizzas!
These guys were rolling out yummy pizzas!
Walking around the large colorful garden. Schools and community groups can grow their own plants in an urban environment downtown.
Walking around the large colorful garden. Schools and community groups can grow their own plants in an urban environment downtown.
Lessons about how to plant urban crops were underway in the late morning.
Lessons about how to plant urban crops were underway in the late morning.
A young gardener sows some seeds at SMARTS Farm.
A young gardener sows some seeds at SMARTS Farm.
Hands on farming includes a children's garden and plants grown by nearby school KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy--my neighbor on Cortez Hill.
Hands on farming includes a children’s garden and plants grown by nearby school KIPP Adelante Preparatory Academy–my neighbor on Cortez Hill.
A pleasant day can be had tending a garden and learning about gardening in the middle of downtown San Diego!
A pleasant day can be had tending a garden and learning about gardening in the middle of downtown San Diego!
Nature, Water, Air. At SMARTS Farm, every day is Earth Day!
Nature, Water, Air. At SMARTS Farm, every day is Earth Day!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Glean Queens of San Diego need your help!

Got extra fruit. Got time. Help fight hunger and have a load of fun, too!
Got extra fruit? Got time? Help fight hunger and have a load of fun, too!

Do you love to be out in the San Diego sunshine, among friendly people and fragrant fruit trees? Do you hate to see delicious, nutritious fruit just lying there on the ground, beginning to rot? Do you, perhaps, own fruit trees in your backyard and struggle to give the abundant harvest away? Would you like to help some hungry people?

If you’re looking for a fun opportunity to volunteer and make a positive change in the lives of San Diegans, read on! Some fantastic ladies whom I met at EarthFair need your help! They’re the Glean Queens!

These three ladies are making the world a better place. Join them!
These three ladies are making the world a better place. Join them!

The Glean Queens have undertaken a very important project. It’s called CropSwap. The perfectly named CropSwap (part of their organization ProduceGood) solves a huge problem. The problem of tragically wasted food–locally grown fruit, to be exact.

Sunny Southern California is thick with citrus and other fruit trees. Many residents have them on their property. Many of the established trees provide more fruit than a family can possibly use. Why should the excess become useless garbage?

Help save nutritious oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, tangerines...you name it!
Help save valuable, nutritious oranges, lemons, limes, avocados, tangerines…you name it!

According to the USDA, a whopping 40% of crops go to waste. And here’s another shocking statistic: 20% of San Diegans have difficulty getting enough food to eat.

CropSwap coordinates fruit tree owners and volunteer pickers, and arranges the collection of excess fruit that would otherwise be wasted. The fruit is then delivered to San Diego food banks. An excellent (and common sense) idea!

So all you fruit tree owners and future volunteer pickers in and around San Diego! Click here to visit the ProduceGood website and learn how you can personally help, in a very tangible and rewarding way, to fight hunger!

You can easily make a positive difference in San Diego!
You can easily make a positive difference in San Diego!

Spread the word!

To enjoy future posts, you can “like” Cool San Diego Sights on Facebook. or follow me on Twitter.