In 2014 and 2015, the VISTA worked alongside the Harvest Coordinator to establish twice-weekly residential volunteer harvests. Residential harvests include all harvesting done at someone’s personal property on their own fruit tree. There are three things to keep in mind when scheduling a residential volunteer harvest:
● Choose a different neighborhood to focus on each week in order to create balance and opportunity for interested volunteers across the city. It also engages volunteers to act locally and grow their awareness about fruitful trees in their neighborhoods.
● Make sure to cap a maximum number of volunteers for residential harvests. In 2015 City Fruit capped volunteer numbers at six. It is important to manage how many volunteers show up at a person’s home for a backyard glean, because the space is small and you want to respect the donor. It is equally important for the volunteers to make effective and meaningful use of their time.
● Use Salesforce for Volunteers to effectively keep in touch with volunteers. One to two days before each residential volunteer harvest, send out an automated email to all volunteers who signed up. This will allow volunteers to plan their day by knowing ahead of time where to meet. Not only does it serve as a reminder for their shift, but it also gives them an opportunity to cancel if they cannot attend.
● Ensure that each volunteer signs a general release form and photo release form. This protects the organization, tree owner’s property, and the volunteer. After signing the release form, do a brief orientation, highlighting where the fruit will go and how to harvest the fruit they are about to pick. Make sure that all crates, picking bags, and pole pickers and ladders (if necessary) are at each residential harvest either before or at the time of the residential harvest.
Recognition is incredibly important for all volunteers who commit a significant amount of time to their work. Recognition can range from small acts, like posting a picture of volunteers who harvested fruit while it was raining and thanking them, to a formal recognition of all volunteers who have helped by having a volunteer appreciation party (happy hour, bbq, etc.).
City Fruit promotes the cultivation of urban fruit in order to nourish people, build community and protect the climate. We help tree owners grow healthy fruit, provide assistance in harvesting and preserving fruit, promote the sharing of extra fruit, and work to protect urban fruit trees. Our programs include harvesting unwanted fruit from private properties, stewarding and harvesting public orchards, training orchard stewards, and delivering the thousands of pounds of gleaned fruit to organizations who can distribute it to people who need it most: food banks, senior centers, homeless shelters, low-income housing programs, lunch programs, daycares and more.
In late 2013, City Fruit was chosen to take part in Rotary First Harvest’s AmeriCorps VISTA program, Harvest Against Hunger (HAH). This allowed the small team at City Fruit to start building capacity in ways it could never before with a new full-time VISTA member. This VISTA position deviates from the traditional Harvest Against Hunger VISTA because it does not include working directly with farms or meal program recipients in any way. Rather, City Fruit’s VISTA is a Community Outreach Coordinator whose tasks include building new relationships within the community to care for public orchards year-round, speaking with people about City Fruit’s mission and work about City Fruit at community festivals and events, and building the volunteer base through various volunteer programs including the Ambassador Program. The VISTA alsocontributes to blogs, social media outlets, and uses MailChimp to create volunteer newsletters, They also use Salesforce and the Volunteers for Salesforce plugin to create volunteer opportunities, record hours and keep in contact with all volunteers.