UA students seek funding for on-campus olive harvesting

Thursday, September 12, 2013

UA students have obtained a UA Green Fund grant of roughly $7,000 to harvest olive, citrus and mesquite trees on campus.

The UA already harvests mesquite trees to provide mesquite flour for Dining Services, and Linking Edible Arizona Forests is trying to add harvested olives to the menu. Olives can be made into olive oil for the UA to use, according to Angela Knerl, a second-year graduate student with the School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

"If we had the olive oil, there would be hopes that further down the road we could incorporate it into the Dining Services like the mesquite flour was," Knerl said.

Certain olive trees were being sprayed by Facilities Management, making them unsafe for harvesting, according to Knerl. LEAF is collaborating with the UA to get a Green Fund grant to harvest the olives this coming year. Facilities Management has agreed to stop spraying certain trees.

Harvesting the olives will mean the UA won't have to pay to spray as many olive trees, and will lessen the amount of olives that fall to the ground and create a mess on the sidewalk, Knerl said.

Students can help LEAF by kicking the olives off of the sidewalk, which helps keep the campus clean, according to Knerl. They can also participate as student volunteers in the harvesting process for mesquite trees and olive trees.

"It is just part of … a groundswell of movement that's happening around the country where people are realizing, ‘Why let this be so-called litter - when the fruit is falling to the ground and getting wasted - when it could be food?'" said Melanie Lenart, coordinating lead for LEAF on the UA campus and adjunct professor in the UA Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science.

Read the rest of this September 4, 2013 Daily Wildcat article at the link below.

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