CSUN’s orange trees and duck pond are a familiar landmark for many on campus, but how much do you actually know about the Orange Grove?
Originally planted in the early 1940s, the Orange Grove covers approximately 5 acres along Nordhoff Street (between Zelzah and Lindley, just east of The Soraya) and contains more than 400 Valencia orange trees. It’s one of the last groves that once covered the San Fernando Valley. CSUN’s grove has a variety of functions: It’s a reminder of the Valley’s agricultural past, a place for the community to gather — it’s a student favorite for picnics and dates. It’s also used to study bee populations, and serves as a source of produce for the CSUN Food Pantry and food pantries throughout the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles County.
Mabel Trigueros, with CSUN’s Institute for Sustainability, organizes orange picks for community groups who gather food for people in need. More than 2,700 volunteers have picked more than 153,360 pounds of oranges from the Orange Grove since 2009, Trigueros said.
“We partner with a nonprofit, Food Forward, and [orange picks] become this huge event, which is awesome,” she said. “We do give to our own pantry, but the majority of oranges go to the community here in L.A. County.”
And how do the oranges taste? Cross-pollination with nearby lemon and grapefruit trees adds a special something to the fruit. “Some are a little more bitter, some are really sweet, some are just like, oh my goodness!” Trigueros said, noting that often, the flavors that burst from the oranges surprise her with their kick.
Now that you know a bit more about the CSUN Orange Grove, next time you drive by on Nordhoff or stroll the southern part of campus, consider volunteering with the next orange pick and take a moment to appreciate its history and the value these citrus trees bring to campus and the Valley!