By Kathleen Holder
When life gives you olive trees, make olive oil.
That was the conclusion of Sal Genito, who as campus grounds manager spends about $60,000 a year trying to keep olives off bike baths and sidewalks so that people don’t slip and hurt themselves.
But olives and people sometimes fall on the paths anyway. Late last August, while checking a Russell Boulevard path where someone had slipped, Genito got a whiff of olive oil in the air and began wondering if he could turn a nuisance into, well, olive oil.
He began calling experts around campus. “Their first response was to laugh. Everybody laughed,” Genito said. Then, they offered help. Eventually, Genito was put in touch with Dan Flynn, a local olive oil hobbyist who helped him find a Butte County mill that presses oil in small batches.
UC Davis has more than 2,000 olive trees, including trees more than 150 years old on the campus’s Wolfskill Ranch near Winters.
A test harvest from November through January produced more than 60 gallons of oil. Genito plans to eventually sell four varieties at specialty food stores, gift shops and online. Picnic Day visitors will be able to sample all four varieties and vote for their favorite label.
Gourmet olive oil is a fast-growing industry, and the oil itself is sometimes called “liquid gold.” Genito was considering naming the UC Davis oils Azzurro e Oro, Italian for blue and gold.
If you mix in some minced garlic, you could have Aggie aglio.
Genito says he’s not expecting the oil to make the campus lots of money. “As long as we make the place safer, we’ve done a good thing.”
Now about those acorns…
When UC Davis wrestlers hosted the University of Iowa in January, it was more than a historic event. It was a family affair.
The Hawkeyes, winners of 20 national wrestling titles, are coached by Jim Zalesky, younger brother of Aggies coach Lennie Zalesky. Both brothers wrestled for Iowa title teams; Jim Zalesky is a Hall of Famer.
The younger Zalesky told The Sacramento Bee, tongue in cheek, he had some personal reasons for bringing his team to Davis. “[Lennie is] older than me, so he beat me up a lot. I owe him.”
Iowa won the meet 26-9, but the Aggies won three of the final four matches, and junior Brandon Bear upset Hawkeye Paul Bradley, who was ranked No. 2 in the nation.
And the crowd set an attendance record for a home wrestling match with 5,150 people.
When construction seems to block your every path, a sense of humor can come in handy.
New signs on construction fences around campus offer humorous definitions to lighten moods, even if they can’t clear the way.
Reads one sign: “Progress: An ironic state in which the path to UC Davis’ future obstructs your path to Bio Sci 1A.”
Another says: “Construction: The factor in Einstein’s theory that alters time and space, expanding weeks into months and turning your easy route to class into a bewildering search for the Northwest Passage.”
A third reads: “Amaze: To meander frantically around all of these construction projects, looking for a way out or your study group, whichever comes first.”
With lots of construction comes lots of debris: broken concrete, wood scraps and more. Luckily, much of it can be recycled. And the UC Davis R4 Recycling Program says that when it comes to sustainable building, the campus is “paving the way.”
Campus construction projects last year generated 14,128 cubic yards of waste—enough to bury Toomey Field 8 feet deep in debris. The campus and its building contractors recycle more than half of that waste.
One contractor, Brown Construction Co., salvaged more than 90 percent of the debris created at the Mathematical Sciences Building site. R4 Recycling staff assistant Mike Siminitus did the math: “Over 2,000 cubic yards have gone to recycling programs, while only 220 cubic yards have gone to trash.”
HOLD THE CHEF
From the suggestion board at the Coffee House, a note from a customer with an appreciation for the apostrophe:
“It’s chef’s salad, not chef salad.”
Teaching assistant Sarina Jepsen, left, talks with student Alex Gray about how to paint highlights in an insect’s eyes on a mural in Briggs Hall as part of entomology course “Art, Science and the World of Insects.” The course, believed to be the only one of its kind in the nation, includes a variety of lectures on insects’ biology, ecology and role in human culture, plus weekly art-studio sessions. “Once you draw the fact that an insect has three body parts, you don’t have to memorize that fact anymore,” says entomology professor Diane Ullman.
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