Friday, October 21, 2011

Stanford campus is exploding with delicious fruit once again; the trick is just to know where to look. Observing the many fruitless (hehe) trees around campus on my way to the years first Stanford Gleaning Club (SGC) gathering, I found myself skeptical. I wondered, how many people would we feed off of redwood bark and palm fronds?, as Stanford doesn’t seem to have much more to offer than these at first glance.
I arrived at Tresider a few minutes early, not sure exactly where the gleaners would gather. Soon it became clear however when an arm full of red fruit pickers appeared bouncing five feet above someone approaching me.
“You look like a gleaner,” I said. He was.
Soon the two of us grew into a crowd, one that was significantly larger than I had expected, and in fact, I was later told it was the SGC’s largest turn out to date. Those who approached were a varied crowd: many freshmen excited to join and participate in their first club on campus, some experienced looking folk who brought with them reusable canvas sacks and baskets, and then the four coordinators, Gabi ….. There were even those who had nothing to do with Stanford helping. A couple from San Francisco had been biking past and stopped to investigate the crowd when we prompted them to join us. After a brief explanation, they postponed whatever it was they had been intending to do and happily followed behind the gleaner brigade. I asked them if we were interfering with their original plans and they replied, “Well how could we be offered an experience like this and just deny it?”
            One of SGC’s major appeals for participation is the glow that radiates from you during and after the experience. I believe that for anyone, something simply aligns in us amidst the synergy of partaking in an activity that is anonymously beneficial for others while also inherently enjoyable and and in complete conjunction with the Earth. An apple never tasted so sweet than from a SGC’s fruit picker.
            After a brief intro we split off in groups to separate part of the campus. My group’s first stop was an apple tree on Campus Drive across from the Munger residences. My previous impression of a fruitless campus was forgotten quickly as the tree was sagged with plumply ripened green apples. We filled a few sacks quickly, and in leaving the canvas bags weighed a few down, bulging curiously in our cheery parade between fruiting flora.
 Later, we learned that these sacks contributed to the gleans final conjoined weigh in of 30.5 lbs. of apples. Not only that, we also pulled in 2.5 lbs. of pomegranates, 7.5 lbs. of lemons, 15 lbs. of quince, and 15 lbs. of pineapple guava. This knowledge was extremely satisfying in the wake of our work, as the time seemed to fly by as it does during any moments spent well enjoyed.
Along with the major fruit, we also gleaned a good amount of smaller, more fragile fruit that weren’t accounted for, most of which may or may not have been entirely consumed by us in the process. Figs were a rewarding discovery, splitting with ripeness on there branches from their bulbous gory innards. We also gleaned what we could from a mysterious tree that has always fascinated me. It grows between the bikeway that links Meyer Library’s to Stern and Wilbur halls, and it produces a glowing red fruit the size and shape of a Ping-Pong ball, only covered in miniscule ineffectual spikes. If only I’d only known these little balls of scrumptiousness were edible, and delicious, during freshman year when I had passed them every morning on the way to class.
We finished off the days work at the Down With Gravity club meeting going on in from of Tresider, whose activities we complimented with new sets of juggling balls, fruit! The fruit was headed for the Free Farm Stand in San Francisco’s Tenderloin that next morning, which many of us helped out with and will share with you soon.