Plans to Harvest Citrus In Spring


In the spring, LEAF on the UA Campus will turn its attention to the citrus trees adorning the grounds. With more than 250 citrus trees on campus, LEAF collaborators, students and volunteers will have the opportunity to harvest citrus fruits growing right above our heads.


So which fruits are we looking to pick? Through the LEAF project, collaborators are moving beyond just the mouth-puckering citrus you might find in your neighbor’s backyard.


A little-known citrus tree with little fruits about the size of a ping-pong ball, Calamondin limes abound on the UA campus and offer an alternative to more common citrus fruits. Calamondin limes are renowned for their edible rind and tangy meat and juice that create a sweet/sour flavor combination prized in Asian cuisine.


The edible rind, however, is susceptible to “plugging,” or breakage, which gives interns with the LEAF project a chance to develop specialized harvesting techniques for this fragile fruit.


Perhaps a more familiar fruit taking the stage in the project are Seville or “sour” oranges. Commonly used for ornamental purposes, Seville oranges are both beautiful and, as LEAF interns seek to show, excellent for culinary use.


Although many find the fruit’s juice too sour for snacking, Seville oranges offer many opportunities for use in piquant jams, jellies, marmalades, marinades, and in Middle Eastern dishes.


LEAF work with Seville oranges will also seek to share with the community ideas for preserving citrus products. Plans call for experts from the Iskashitaa Refugee Network to offer a hands-on workshop on campus showing students and other Tucsonans how to with prepare and preserve the orange gold.


As experts in the community on harvesting and reuse of local fruit, the Iskashitaa Refugee Network is collaborating on the LEAF project. With 10 years of urban gleaning experience in Tucson and programs offered to U.N. Refugees from more than 17 different countries, Iskashitaa hopes to disseminate knowledge about food resources on campus to the Tucson community via the LEAF project as well as its own efforts.


Working alongside Iskashitaa will also involve our community’s refugees in the harvesting of campus fruit, and in turn will give refugees a chance to share their own knowledge of citrus use, such as in a preservation workshop.


Interns will also test different methods for harvesting, and create “best practices” publications. The public will find these posted on the LEAF website, located on the Campus Arboretum page.


If you’re interested in getting involved with the LEAF project’s harvesting or want to learn about our campus’ citrus trees or the upcoming workshop, contact Ty Trainer at

Learn more about the 2014 citrus harvests (Mar. 3, 2014)