Going into this year’s harvest season, we knew it was going to be a challenging one. Due to the ripple effects of COVID-19, our harvest budget was reduced significantly, which meant we were not able to hire as many seasonable harvesters as we normally would. In addition, we couldn’t even host volunteer work parties due to social distancing requirements. But knowing that many Seattleites are suffering from the economic downturn and experiencing food insecurity, we had to think outside the box.
Earlier this summer, we put a call out for a handful of dedicated volunteers to help harvest fruit regularly during the peak season. We were thrilled to receive some enthusiastic response, and welcomed 7 Neighborhood Ambassadors to the harvest crew!
Anna is one of the Neighborhood Ambassadors who had previously volunteered with City Fruit. She has been harvesting in the South Seattle neighborhoods where she lives.
“I got involved with City Fruit shortly after moving to Seattle this past winter because they’re very organized, are focused on local food security, and are stewarding fruit trees for the long-term. The Neighborhood Ambassador model is designed so that I never need to travel far to go work on a harvest, but it always seems like a small adventure to a new area or new property in my neighborhood. It’s sort of a unique opportunity, especially right now, to get to meet my neighbors and explore their gardens.
Every two week period we receive a list of trees that are likely to be ripening in our neighborhood, along with the resident’s contact information. From there we’re on our own to decide our own schedule and coordinate with the resident about coming to harvest. During COVID, I’ve only had brief interactions with my neighbors, but it’s always fun to have an opportunity to educate, talk fruit, or just share a moment of the day together. In Beacon Hill, I’ve taken all the fruit donations to the El Centro De La Raza food bank, where I’m greeted with the warmest smiles.
I really appreciate the guidance and education I receive from the sweet, friendly City Fruit staff. They make it possible so that I can commit just a few hours a week to confidently harvest and deliver fruit at the peak of its season. This is an awesome opportunity for anyone wanting to help increase access to delicious local fruit (and take a few for the road)!” – Anna S.
The addition of the Neighborhood Ambassadors to the harvest crew has been such a tremendous help in a year when our resources are limited yet demand for fresh, nutritious produce is high in our community. Thanks to them, we have been able to harvest and donate additional 1,000 lbs of fruit that otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to harvest so far. Thank you, Neighborhood Ambassadors!