Field of Science

University landscaping put to good use

TPP thinks with some justification that the entire campus grounds functions as his classroom.  In particular just a one building from TPP's office is a crabapple tree that is a true champion.  All crabapples did well this season with loads of fruit, but this particular variety has really big fruit, well over 1" diameter apples, dark red, hard, and very tart.  This year the tree's branches are bent down under the weight of the crop.  Some years ago, actually a couple of decades ago, TPP discovered that these crabapples made damn good jelly, and the Phactor household has been enjoying tart/sweet red crabapple jelly all of this time by taking advantage of this otherwise wasted resource.  The campus landscaping provides a number of such goodies that no one else ever takes any advantage of.  To get native pecans you must compete with the squirrels.  One year a local microbrewery harvested all the hops growing up the side of our building, the greedy buggers.  TPP had to take it out in trade - value added hops, so to speak. One of the best trees died and hasn't been replaced unfortunately - a butternut tree.  As a graduate student TPP discovered a trove of butternuts on another campus, and kindly made some butternut tarts to soften up his examing committee.  The department chair took an inordinate interest in the tarts and demanded to know where the nuts had come from (and their species name - easy).  Who knew he hadn't had any nut gathering competition for years and thought of them as his personal property. After all, what other than who gets there first determines ownership?  This year quite a number of people asked my students what they were doing, and if they had permission (of course TPP gave them permission) to pick crabapples (you didn't think he picked his own did you?).  This week's lab on gels, waxes, oils, and latexes will give them a chance to make some jelly of their own.

1 comment:

James said...

Every year the Univ. of Chicago's department of E&E erects a tent beneath a ginkgo -- a female! -- to keep the fruit from getting tracked into the building. However, occasionally you'll find someone scooping up the little morsels (usually with a whisk broom or gloved hand), presumably to eat.