I grew up in the Deep South, in Georgia. At our house, we had three trees that thrived in the central Georgia climate: A holly tree, a dogwood tree, and the pièce de résistance, a pecan tree. Every other year, the pecan tree would drop an enormous number of hard-shelled pecans on the ground. If our family was feeling plucky enough, we would pick pecans off the ground and then shell them in our dining area. It was a lot of work.
Here in Spain, oranges grow like wildfire. Streets here are lined with orange trees, orange groves cover the mountainsides, and fresh orange juice at breakfast is like the nectar of the gods, if you are into that sort of thing. More locally, orange trees are used as street decorations. The smell of orange blossoms is a welcome sign of spring when walking in the city. As winter approaches, the oranges ripen for a pop of color on the streets. Alas, these are decorative oranges, and are not really edible. They are too bitter and sour for human taste buds.
On our street, orange trees line the sidewalk and it's common to see ripe oranges falling onto the cars parked beneath them. It's also common to see cars with dimpled hoods, evidence of past parking choices on streets where orange trees have been planted. The oranges become small soccer balls for kids walking on the sidewalk. The smell of oranges fills the air when a car runs over a runaway orange.
I always wondered what happened to all of the oranges when the trees became overloaded, and one day, I found out. There had been notices up telling people to park elsewhere, but I thought there was going to be a festival event or some sort of construction on our street. I stepped out onto the street and the most intense orange smell I have ever experience permeated the air. A work crew had appeared, bringing a variety of unusual machines, large construction-sized lifting bags, and shovels.
What followed was unexpected but fascinating. The large machines had two "scoops" on the front. The machines would pull up to an orange tree, and place the trunk between the two scoops. Then the tree would be shaken, with a great deal of force and rapid oscillation. As if waiting for their chance to shine, the oranges plummet to the ground into the large scoops or into the street.
Aside from the fact that it smelled amazing outside for a couple of hours, the entire process is efficient and makes way for the orange blossoms that will show up in a month or two. I have no idea what happens to the oranges, but I would guess that Valencia has some sort of plan that is enacted annually as tons of oranges are collected. At least, that's what I hope happens.