CSUN Orange Grove is a good pick

Brian De Los Santos

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A student picks an orange from one of the trees in the orange grove. Contrary to popular belief, it is OK to pick oranges from the orange grove. Photo Credit: Virginia Bulacio / Staff Photographer

This is not the story of Adam and Eve, but some say that there is forbidden fruit on campus.

A myth around CSUN suggests that picking from the orange grove on campus is unlawful. Some have said you can even earn a ticket by doing so, however truth of the matter is there is no policy or law that forbids the picking of oranges.

Although picking from the orange trees is frowned upon, there is no official CSUN policy that prohibits such action or any serious repercussions.

The orange grove, located on the southeast corner of campus, tracks an agricultural past of the San Fernando Valley.

Associated Students dubbed the orange grove at CSUN an official historic site in 1972. The space, filled with over 400 orange trees, some dating back to 1952, is a remnant of the 15,000 acres of orange trees that once landscaped the valley.

Amy Ho, 25, biology major, is one of many students who thought orange picking was off limits.

She said that as she was picking oranges from the grove someone told her to get down from the trees because it was a historic site. So she did.

“(Because of that encounter), I have only picked from them once,” Ho said.

There is no agency at CSUN that has claimed responsibility for scorning pickers or handing them tickets.

“We do not have a policy how we handle the orange grove,” said Jody Van Leuven, environmental health and safety risk manager. “And we shouldn’t.”

Physical Plant Management, which fulfills the landscaping and maintenance jobs for the area, does not patrol for orange pickers.

“We don’t police it in that way,” said Lynn Wiegers, PPM executive director. “Our duty is to police the area to clean up the oranges on the floor.”

CSUN police also does not police the behavior of would-be orange pickers.

Christina Villalobos, CSUN police public information officer, said the police department treats it as any other part of campus. They only get involved if a crime occurs on the site or they get called in.

The grove that caters to the CSUN community would have been a thing of the past if it wasn’t for students advocating for it.

According to a 1991 L.A. Times article, CSUN officials were debating whether or not to construct a parking lot on the orange grove but student organizations stepped in and asked that the site be spared and recommended a parking lot somewhere else.

In spite of plans to uproot the grove to make way for cement and concrete, the field of trees still stands, free of laws against orange picking.

Nevertheless, oranges still follow the laws of gravity.

Students, like Danielle Brand, 25, have seen hundreds of oranges scattered all over the grove’s ground and does not understand why they go to waste.

“It (should be) OK (to pick),       because there are so many there,” Brand said. “They are there to be eaten. It’s a university, not a private home.”

However, there is one organization on campus that offers the opportunity to pick in bulk, diminishing the number of oranges on the ground.

The Institute of Sustainability, in cooperation with Food Forward, a non-profit food program, hosts a program called Big Pick every semester that invites the community to reach for the trees and snip off oranges to donate to food banks in low-income communities.

Sarah Johnson, Institute of Sustainability administrative coordinator, said she encourages students to get involved with the Big Pick because it is something that is not only fun, but is also charitable.

Stephanie Jones, 21, biology major admits to grabbing an orange or two.

“If you don’t pick them, what is going to happen with oranges?” Jones asked.