This project has been selected as a finalist in the Food Stewardship category:
fruits of the city
The Fruits of the City program addresses the issue of lack of access to fresh, healthy fruit for the economically disenfranchised by coordinating teams of volunteers and fruit tree owners -- be they backyard or private and commercial orchards around the Metro region -- to deliver thousands of pounds of fresh fruit to 30+ area food shelves and 3 food banks. The program coordinates a network of neighborhood coordinators to organize gleanings for backyard tree owners whose trees produce more fruit than they can either consume or market. We also partner with Second Harvest Heartland and Channel One Food Bank to harvest surplus apples from area orchards using their logistical infrastructure. Volunteers come from the many corporations who encourage employees to give back to their community as well as from the generosity of individuals who provide the gift of service. The Fruits of the City program provides educational opportunities by offering classes in covering subjects like Soil Basics, Edible Landscaping in your Yard, Bees as Pollinators and Tree Pruning as well as publishing a Tree Care Guide to encourage tree owners and the quality of their yield. Fruits of the City has harvested and delivered over 230,000 pounds to over 30 area food shelves since 2009 enlisting the help of over 1,100 volunteers and has partnered with over 200 homeowners and 22 orchards. Not only is this program delivering much needed fresh, healthy fruit to those in most need, it is keeping tons of waste from entering the waste stream.
Partnerships are at the heart of the Fruits of the City program. We partner with the many corporate entities, like Ameriprise, Target and Wells Fargo to recruit volunteers, with homeowners with backyard trees as well as with commercial and private apple orchards to secure them as sources of quality food, and with food banks such as Second Harvest Heartland and Channel One to tap into their resources for transporting thousands of pounds of fruit at a time. The 30+ partner food shelves and food banks provide distribution of the locally harvested fruit to those most in need. Through collaboration, each organization can play to their strengths and accomplish more together. In 2013 we collectively gleaned over128,000 lbs. of fruit from 112 homeowners and over 20 local orchards. This is more than three times the amount we harvested the year prior – a testament to the effectiveness of collaboration.
How is the project groundbreaking?
Gleaning is a term that has biblical roots and references going through the fields after harvest and gathering food by the poor. Fruits of the City has adapted that concept and re-framed it to meet today’s culture and environment. The program offers an integrated approach to solving the issues of hunger and nutrition. We engage short and long-term initiatives around fresh, local fruit and bringing many people and organizations to the same table to accomplish solutions. In the short term, we coordinate and train volunteers to harvest fruit from our partner tree owners (backyards and private and commercial orchards). To sustain the program and its benefits we engage in the long term by providing educational opportunities and resources to maintain and improve the quality and quantity of the fruit. Beyond that, we are also engaging communities and organizations to develop community orchards in an effort to create and/or expand edible landscapes. We do this by tapping the many available community resources ranging from individuals to public leaders to corporate partners. Overall, Fruits of the City is unique due to our ability to match existing resources with a need, prevent waste while increasing access to fresh food, building community, provide educational opportunities so as to increase the quality and quantity of fresh food, develop edible landscapes as well as creating opportunities for contributing other than with one’s wallet - all within a single program.
What are the project goals?
Harvest and distribute over 70,800 meals of fresh and healthy fruit to at least 30 area food shelves
Engage over 120 Tree/Home owners and harvest fruit from their trees
Engage and train 8 Neighborhood Coordinators
Engage at least 15 orchards in gleaning annually
Engage, train and deploy over 300 volunteer gleaners
Establish at least 3 Community Orchards on public sites with trained Adopt-an-Orchard teams for each location, and
Market and host 6-8 Fruit Tree Care/Edible Landscape classes throughout the metro area.
What are the project outcomes?
Increasing access to healthy foods amongst those in need (over 230,000 lbs. of high quality, fresh, healthy and local fruit)
Increased awareness of all constituents as to the capabilities of our communities and environment to make a significant impact on solving hunger issues through collaborative engagement and service.
Community Building (neighbors meeting neighbors; providing new volunteer opportunities that increase community engagement) and
Reducing Waste Fruits of the City has had a profound impact on three groups of people through our gleaning and education initiatives: • Patron families of food shelves, who get a chance to choose fresh, local fruit instead of the typical packaged food items
Volunteers have a chance to engage with their community, make a positive contribution to their and learn more about getting healthy food to those who do not always have access to it
Tree owners (including orchard owners) who do not have the capacity to use all their fruit and wish to see it put to good use by helping those in need