Fruit for students

Jean Keller

Jean Keller

Kirsten Cesna, Staff Writer

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As the school year blossoms so do the fruit trees that were planted for students to enjoy while attending Mesa college. There are over 17 trees planted on campus ranging from various apples, oranges, tangerines, mandarins, apricots, peaches, pomegranates and even avocados. History Professor Jean Keller and mesa alum Pejman Behvand worked together to create what they now call “Fruit for Students”.
Behvand was inspired back in 2014 while walking to class, observing the campus’ planters and trees when the question popped into his head: “Why are there no fruit trees?” Behvand figured that if there were trees planted they could also provide healthy and free snack for everyone on Meda campus.
After talking to people about the idea of planting organic fruit trees and in the spring of 2015 he created a detailed plan, which included the little to no financial cost of this project.
Behvand recalls asking Professor Keller what she thought about the idea. Keller said once he brought the idea up they, “Shook on it and were partners ever since because it was so awesome.” From there on, they were partners and then created an everlasting friendship that will so inspires other schools to start this project.
Student Nicholas Shrager heard about the project and then joined the team as well.
The process of getting approvals wasn’t quick or simple,. Behvand told The Mesa Press, “All the departments I had to speak to to get this done were all so supportive of this idea and were on board for it.” Food is always a problem for students which is why fruit for students is perfect for Mesa because the fruit is free and organic.
The Associated Student and Maintenance Government committees gave the approval in October and November of 2015. From that point forward,they began looking into what trees they wanted to plant. Supplies were then purchased, trees were put into pots, and finally planted in August of 2017.
Because of the trees’ sizes, the pesticide-free fruits are easily accessible, all Behvand asks of students is to give them a quick rinse and be considerate so other people can enjoy the fruits as well.
Aside from providing healthy snacks for students, thee project was designed to encourage other school campuses to do plant trees of their own. The fruit trees serve as the perfect snack to give our brain the energy it needs to get through the day. Many students struggle with affording food and getting the right amount of nutrients which is why this project is perfect for all students.
Mesa is the first college to plant fruit trees where students have permission to pick the fruit off the trees and enjoy their snack. Keller says, “We are the test case. So this is how it works, these are the trees that work the best and this is how you go through it.”.
Behvand is currently working on forming a non-profit organization whose goal is to consult with different schools and provide assistance and resources with planting their own fruit trees.
Keller says that the next step to further an organic campus is planting a lavender garden, which is both a natural pesticide and a stress reliever. She explains, “Students are stressed all the time and so are faculty, so what if you just had a little place to be surrounded by the smell of lavender?”
The trees are located in between the theater, art and admin buildings. Everyone is encouraged to pick the ripe fruit and enjoy a quick, nutritious and free snack!

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