The AmeriCorps VISTA worked alongside the Orchard Steward Coordinator to create a schedule of monthly work parties at the 14 parks City Fruit stewards. The VISTA determined the site needs and recruited volunteers using various outreach mechanisms. In general winter activities include restoration, pruning, weeding and clearing debris. Spring activities focus on pest prevention, restoration and weeding. Summer time begins harvesting of cherries, plums and figs, general restoration, mulching and creating tree rings, weeding and watering fruit trees. The autumn season tends to be the heaviest harvest with apples and pears as well as cleanup of fallen fruit.
● Aprons/reflective vests
● Trash Bags
● Rice Knives
● Weed Wrench: only needed if site has Scotch Broom (cytisus scoparius)
● Gloves: request rubber if invasive blackberry is present on-site.
What to Pack/wear:
● Water Bottle
● Close-Toed Shoes
● Garden Appropriate Clothing
● Greet volunteers/Direct to Parking
● Have volunteers sign-in
● Introduce your organization and how it relates to the work to be done.
● Talk about the specific project for the day:
o Safety first: Volunteers should assess their own skills and abilities. Don’t put volunteers on ladders who do not feel comfortable there.
o Talk about tasks as determined by work party planning form and designate which tools are needed.
o Instruct volunteers to get gloves and choose tools and projects to work on.
● Mark fruit trees to be harvested with flags.
● Fruit for donation: Should have minimal markings or “bug holes.” In general 1-2 holes made by codling moth is acceptable for food pantry donation.
● Fruit for secondary uses: This fruit with excssive apple maggot and/or codling moth markings (nearly 50% of the fruit) mean the fruit is inedible and may not be suitable for donation. This fruit is still accepted by some food pantries whose clients can take as much as they want for making cider, apple butter or cooking. Check with harvest manager if the food pantry allows this donation. Chicken owners may also be interested in taking scraps for feed.
● Fruit for compost: This fruit with over 50% pest damage or has visible mold and may come from the ground. Dispose of in local yard waste or city compost container. Do not compost on-site even if available. Pests can continue their lifecycle in residential compost systems because temperature will not get hot enough to kill maggots. Reinfestation can occur the next year.
Wrap up the Work Party:
● Make sure nothing is left in the orchard
● Pack up tools
● Thank volunteers
● Weigh produce, document
● Document volunteer hours in Salesforce
● Send thank you note to volunteer group leader if applicable
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 Harvest Against Hunger's (formerly Rotary First Harvest) Harvest VISTA program.This VISTA position deviated from the traditional Harvest VISTA as instead of working directly with farms or meal program recipients, the VISTA served as a Community Outreach Coordinator. Their achievements included building new relationships within the community to care for public orchards, speaking with people about City Fruit’s mission at community festivals and events, and building the volunteer base through various programs such as the Ambassador Program.
The VISTA also contributed to blogs, social media outlets, and volunteer newsletters, as well as used Salesforce and the Volunteers for Salesforce plugin to create volunteer opportunities, record hours and keep in contact with all volunteers.