Claremont Community “Jams” for Sustainability

The Public Fruit Jam
took the term “jam session” to a whole new level Feb. 19. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,
around 200 people jammed together at Claremont’s San Antonio High School, creating custom
marmalades from Seville oranges, kumquats, grapefruit and lemons, or out of fruit from the community’s own backyards.

The community event was a joint
project with interns from the San Antonio High School Food Justice Program, the
Fallen Fruit Artists’ cooperative from Silverlake and members of the Scripps
Environmental Club. Scripps College professor Nancy Neiman Auerbach planned the
project, and students in her Food Politics class assisted by picking fruit for, setting
up and cleaning up the event.

“The main goal was to build
community and awareness around the use of abundantly-available public fruit,”
Auerbach said. 

This fruit came predominantly from the Scripps campus,
though some participants opted to bring their own fruits, including blood
oranges, strawberries and yellow limes.

“It was wonderful to see students,
professors and people from the Claremont community coming together and doing
an activity which is sustainable, because all of the fruit (1,500 pieces) was
picked on Scripps campus,” said Julia Howard SC ’14, Scripps College Environmental Chair.

The “jam” was “all very energized and
the mix of people from on and off campus, from little kids to grandparents, was
amazing,” Auerbach said, noting that some Family Weekend visitors came as

Scripps Environmental Club member
Jenn Livermore SC ’14, who helped publicize the event and harvested fruit,
agreed that the event was a success, despite the slight “hiccup” of being let into
the school’s building an hour behind schedule.

“The event was very well organized,
and throughout the day there was a steady flow of people coming to the event,”
Howard said. “Whenever someone arrived, they would find a space at a table, and
be put to work slicing Seville oranges, or kumquats or lemons, and at the same
time get to know the people at the table.”

To advertise the event, Howard and
Auerbach’s Food Politics class brought fliers to downtown businesses and put them
around the Claremont Colleges’ campuses. In addition, Scripps Associated Students co-sponsored the event and sent out e-mails to raise student participation.

“I think people really enjoyed many
aspects of the event—looking around, everyone was smiling and laughing and
engaged in conversation,” Howard said. “I think people were also amazed to see
in the cooking process how quickly their chopped-up fruit quickly transformed
into jam with the addition of a little pectin and a lot of sugar… the work
involved in making jam is labor-intensive, but when you make it with a group of
people and you are chatting, the time flies by, and the end result is delicious.”

In addition to Livermore’s goal to
“get people excited about environmental activism,” Auerbach also hoped the
event would spur interest in the specific activist programs that sponsored the

“It was also to highlight San
Antonio High and the incredible program that is being built down there,”
Auerbach said. “Unfortunately, a lot of people who live in Claremont don’t even
seem to know that the high school is there.”

Participants walked away with
between two and six jars of homemade jam, Livermore estimated, and a new
appreciation for the local programs that supported the event.

“It was great,” Livermore said.
“Getting out into the community and working together to create something
delicious was a great way to emphasize that sustainability creates community.”

Fruit Jam not only brought Scripps community together, but also reached the
Claremont community at large and demonstrated how food, which we have
available in our backyard, has the power to bring people together,” Howard said.

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