2013 - Linking Edible Arizona Forests



The University of Arizona main campus has almost 8,000 mature trees growing in the landscape and that number is climbing. While many of these trees are purely ornamental, about 1,800 of these trees produce edible fruits, nuts and seeds. Currently these are going largely unutilized, but LEAF hopes to change that.


Olive, citrus, mesquite, oak, pinion and date trees are among the dozen campus species that could be harvested for local food. LEAF on the UA Campus is a project launched during the 2013-14 academic year to develop harvesting plans for  several varieties of these edible trees. 


The campus project, supported by the UA Green Fund, relates to the Linking Edible Arizona Forests (LEAF) Network. The LEAF mission is “Linking people with the benefits of edible trees, and edible trees with the care of people.” 


The idea is to increase the use and sustainability of edible trees in the state’s urban and community forests – and now in the UA’s Campus Arboretum as well.



On campus several harvest projects are already in the making. Mesquite pods have  been successfully harvested in recent years and will continue to be in the future. LEAF is gearing up for its first Fall Olive Harvest, and in the spring LEAF will set its sights on harvesting citrus around campus. For more information on these projects follow these links: Mesquite Pods, Olives, Citrus.


Supported by the UA Green Fund, collaborators include the Campus Arboretum, Dining Services, and Facilities Management. The project is gaining momentum. The Tucson community appears to have a strong interest in harvesting locally grown fruits, mesquite pods and other edibles from campus trees. Reporters from The Arizona Daily Star, The Daily Wildcat, and KOAV, KOLD and KUAT TV have covered the story about LEAF’s pending olive harvest.


If you are interested in staying informed or getting involved with this exciting new program then like us on Facebook  to be kept up to date on LEAF news and events. LEAF is young program here at the U of A and is going to need support from local, volunteer harvesters like you!



November, 2013