City Fruit’s Community Outreach VISTA is different than most other Harvest Against Hunger VISTA members because there is no direct relationship with the people who own the fruit trees, save for occasionally interacting with them at residential volunteer harvests.
City Fruit’s Harvest Manager is responsible for maintaining relationships with residential tree owners by reaching out to them earlier in the year to see if they would like to continue to keep their tree registered, if they’d like to receive some harvested fruit from their trees before donation, scheduling a time to harvest when the fruit is ripe, and thanking them for their donation to feed food insecure Seattleites.
People or businesses who make financial donations or in-kind donations receive hand-written thank you notes. This is a personal way of showing appreciation and hopefully one step toward creating stronger personal relationships with donors.
In general, City Fruit has a growing Salesforce database used to track monetary donations, fundraising, pounds of produce harvested, where the gleaned produce was donated, and volunteer hours. This is equally helpful with planning volunteer events and tracking their hours as it is with maintaining up-to-date information on donors.
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.