How One Man Created A Massive Underground Citrus Grove

When the going gets tough, the tough dig a gigantic underground citrus grove! What started as troubling, barren land became a thriving oasis and heat-resistant home, thanks to one man’s ingenuity and persistence.

The problem

The year was 1906, and California, USA, was in the middle of a heat wave when Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant, bought a plot of land with the intention to grow a citrus grove. Unfortunately, his plans were quickly interrupted:

  • The topsoil looked promising, but underneath were several feet of hardpan (a cemented or compacted layer in soil that can’t be penetrated by roots)
  • That hardpan made it impossible to grow his desired citrus trees
  • It was scorching hot which didn’t bode well for a new plantation

His solution

Knowing the earth could provide respite from the heat, Forestiere started digging. With hand tools.

  • He went down to 7.6 meters (25 feet) below the surface, and used the dirt he dug up to create concrete and bricks which became structural supports for his underground home.

What’s more, he did all this on top of holding down a day job as a labourer.

An underground citrus grove and a home to call his own

Over the course of 40 years, his initial endeavor turned into a massive underground home and citrus grove.

  • Inspired by the architecture of his homeland in Italy, he created a beautiful and structurally sound design that spans over 4 hectares (10 acres) with over 50 subterranean rooms.

Amazingly, Forestiere also engineered a way to grow his citrus grove underground!

  • He planted trees in the better soil found beyond the hardpan, and skylights so the trees could access sunlight, rain and fresh air.

Eventually, he was even able to quit his day job and lived off the income from his underground grove.

Want to visit his underground oasis? It’s still there in Fresno, California!

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