Foraging- Stanford University, Palo Alto

Stanford University is a goldmine for urban foraging. They have many trees that fruit profusely and are ignored by students (who obviously have to worry more about studying than foraging!). The campus not called the Farm for no reason :wink:


Every year around christmas and thanksgiving, there is a huge amount of great quality persimmon available. You do need some tools to pick the fruit from the tall trees because its not easy for them to come loose.


Now the olives are ripe for picking and are just falling all over the ground.


Multiple trees around the student residences in this area.

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Wow, this is great to know. I grew up with a persimmon tree in my backyard, and I’m always staring longingly at my neighbors’ trees . . . what tool(s) do you recommend for picking?

My 35th college reunion is at LSJU ths weekend. I’ll scout out some sites for foraging. Thanks

I haven’t figured out a good tool yet, likely something long, like a stick, perhaps with a basket attached at the end?

In years past, I just tried to shake the trees, but of course the persimmons that came lose fell down at high speed and I had to try to catch them, which is not easy. Most of them just stayed put.

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I tasted the apples from one of their trees before and they tasted great. Although I have no idea where the tree is located on campus. But I think the school is definitely ‘underrepresented’ on the foraging map.

Re picking tools, if you go to osh, you will see the perfect tool. It is about 8foot long, telescopes, and as a little grabbing basket at the end, yellow stick. Costs a bit, but you only buy one then forage for the rest of your life.

At least 20 olive trees near the Bing Nursery School at Escondido/ Rosen. I found them late (last month) and most of the olives were already on the ground or shriveled on the trees. I am no olive expert so couldn’t tell how well they taste- perhaps next year I will brine a few jars and see.

This year I found a branch with a hook at the end and used that to get myself a haul of about 15 persimmons. Score! But yes the tool you described would work much better.

On a related persimmon note, my girlfriend ( who is a fiend for fuyu’s ) says the persimmons at the local mexican market ( el rancho ) are head and shoulders above anything else in market, and similar to what’s on local trees. She was wondering today if el rancho is literally selling what gardeners are being allowed to pick … far fetched, perhaps, but a sign of some good eating ( for cheap, el rancho isn’t farmer’s market prices ).

Link to picking pole - your stick will be far more cost effective! but 12 foot, telescoping twice…

Hmmph $40. I’d have to forage an awful lot of persimmon and other fruits to get a positive return. On the other hand, I’d be foraging a lot more elegantly with that tool. The students wouldn’t be looking at me weird wondering why that guy was beating the tree with a branch. Although I must admit there is a certain thrill that comes from successfully catching a persimmon from the tree at full speed.

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I never do this in a public place, just curious, is it possible to bring a ladder? Or are they any codes that one should follow?

Yeah, $40 is not quite in the spirit of foraging. I was standing in the store, admiring the light weight, good balance, the electricity-proof fiberglass handle, and said… naaah. It’s just not in the spirit of the thing.

Re: codes. I am uncomfortable picking on what is clearly private property without asking permission - like someone’s house. I believe the law is a little more complicated, because fruit over public land ( like the street and sidewalk ) are public. In Menlo Park, the public land is defined as a certain distance from the center of the street, and that distance goes farther than most people know and allow for. What seems the property line ( like the edge of the sidewalk ) is often not the actual boundary.

If it’s a house, and not clearly overhanging the sidewalk, ask permission. Or just always ask permission in residential areas. There is a moral grey area for me - when the fruit is slightly overripe, and clearly hasn’t been picked; or when the property is so large that they clearly can’t track every tree and it’s hard to figure out who to ask; but the law doesn’t draw that distinction.

I feel comfortable foraging at Stanford, on corporate campuses ( I wish more companies planted fruit trees - few do ), and public land ( pocket parks and similar ).

I sent out a note on a local “newsgroup” asking if people had persimmons they needed picked, and got a few positive replies. If you’re a local, you’ll find Yahoo Groups, maybe even Craigslist, and some other websites are places you can ask permission.

When I ask permission, I always offer to pick and split. I’ll pick a few off your tree, and I’ll leave half for the owner.

LOL. people should really not worry about picking fruits during thunders and storms.

Besides the legal code, there are some ethical considerations. For example, I don’t pick fruits from trees in Escondido School, a public elementary school, right next to Stanford. Even though its on public land, my guess is that the children may use those fruits for projects, etc.

Stanford is private. If the gardener is around, its certainly right to ask for permission. The decision to pick for me has more to do with the fact that the fruits are ignored, and the impracticality of seeking permission in a huge school.

Corporate gardeners probably avoid fruit trees and the hassle of cleaning up the dropped overripen fruits, and complaints from people like me who may whine about a bunch of burst persimmons on the windshield!

Around here, people sometimes announces extra fruit available for picking at their property on Next Door.

The pole is high enough that you could bump an electricity cable. 12 feet, times two, plus 4 feet for the person, gets you in the range of some power lines…

You would really complain about burst overripe persimmons? I wouldn’t, but maybe that’s me. I hate those ornamental fruit trees that drip sap and ugly little dwarf fruit that tastes bad. If you’re going to have the mess, have tasty fruit. If I see an overripe persimmon, I might go get a pole ( or stick ).

Article about the “Salvage Supperclub” in Berkeley… dining in a dumpster… ( probably not the next Lazy Bear but you never know )

Ah- got it.

I was referring to me as a general group of people who work in offices. As for me personally, my car is perpetually dirty so I will probably be annoyed that it is dirtier, but those who keep their cars clean may not be too pleased.

I won’t bring a ladder. I do this for fun. Even if I don’t get any fruit it doesn’t bother me. Hauling my 35 pound ladder into the car, out the car and to the tree is too much work for a few fruits, set aside the fact that I would look really weird and its probably not that appropriate on private land.

Along with falling fruit, you can get info straight from the source:

Some entries aren’t up to date. I was looking for quince trees in November and they were gone due to the new art building. Also avocados off main quad seem to be the domain of squirrels. But I know folks who have success harvesting the pineapple guavas and all sorts of citrus.

A great article about SF fruit trees, and grafting…

Here’s a map people have made showing where the edible plants are near Stanford:
I don’t know how recent or accurate it is.

Here’s an map from 5 years ago:
I found it in this article
whose comment section also mentions a few more locations not on the map.

I finally got up the nerve to ask a neighbor that lives around the corner from my house (when I saw him raking leaves last night) about his pomegranate tree. I asked if he eats them, he said he does, and he asked if I wanted some. I said Yes, and offered him to trade some avocados and oranges. He said to give him 10 minutes and he’d cut some for me and this was at 8pm in the dark! I went home to grab my fruits that I had picked over the weekend and brought it over to him. He gave me a box with about 10 pomegranates!!

Another neighbor a 10min walk away said I could pick from her pomegranate tree in the daytime when I saw her tonight, I hope to get some on Sunday. She has a persimmon tree also, think I’m too late for them though.

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yay! Neighborishness!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold

Market stall in Lima
Credit: TXMX 2