Olive Oil Supports Scripps Sustainability Profits

Using profits from its homegrown olive oil, Scripps College has hired a part-time sustainable entrepreneurship coordinator and is planning to fund other sustainability initiatives. The college created the coordinator position this year, offering a 10-month fellowship to Sara Estevez Cores SC '13 to help direct projects including today's second annual Olive Harvest.

"We realized how much it takes to run the Olive Harvest last year, and [Sara] is very efficient," said Director of Grounds Lola Trafecanty, who co-chairs the President’s Advisory Council on Sustainability. "To be able to fund our recent graduate from [last year’s] olive oil profits is a great circle." 

Trafecanty and Nancy Neiman Auerbach, a professor of international political economy at Scripps, piloted the olive oil harvest last year. The harvested olives were pressed at an alumna’s family olive oil press, and the bottled oil was sold. 

Although Trafecanty did not indicate the exact profit from last year's harvest,  she said that Scripps will use revenue from the olive oil to fund a sustainability fair in April and a prize for the winning residence hall in Scripps's Power Down competition. 

She said that the money will also be used to support initiatives proposed by students and members of the Advisory Council on Sustainability. Possible initiatives include composting and a green bike program. 

At today's olive harvest, which is taking place from 8 a.m. to noon, volunteers are again picking olives from the trees around the Edwards Humanities Building at Scripps. 

“The main goal is to bring people together, because when else will you get staff, faculty, students, and community members to come together on campus and do something together?" Estevez said.   

She said the harvest has generated good publicity for the college. The olive oil from last year's Olive Harvest was awarded Best in Show at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition, and Alice Waters, a famous chef and organic food activist, praised Scripps’s sustainable practices.

As part of her fellowship, Estevez is also working with Fallen Fruit From Rising Women, a social enterprise at Crossroads Women, an organization that supports women who have been incarcerated. She said that for the enterprise, student interns from the Claremont Colleges work with the organization to produce edible products, including kombucha and marmalade, which they sell at the Claremont farmers' market. 

"I think Scripps is heading in the right direction opening up this fellowship," Estevez said. "Sustainability is thought of as something very costly, but actually, sustainability can save a lot of money and even bring you profits."