The AmeriCorps*VISTA worked alongside the Senior Program and Education Manager to create a schedule of monthly work parties that will take place at any of the 14 parks City Fruit stewards. Depending on the season, tasks can range from digging tree circles and mulching them to prevent weeds, to a harvest celebration and apple-pressing event. The VISTA determines the site needs and will then recruit a number of volunteers using various outreach mechanisms. Such volunteer recruitment methods for orchard steward work parties include: Volunteer Match, Seattle Works, Idealist, Microsoft’s Volunteer Manager, a number of organizations, businesses, and schools that have expressed an interest in group volunteer opportunities or corporate volunteer events, City Fruit social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), City Fruit newsletters, and City Fruit Volunteer Newsletters. As always, timing and planning is of the essence. Remember that aside from planning, there will also be a couple hours of work to set up the information in volunteers for Salesforce so that volunteers can recruit online. United Way King County has connected us with volunteer groups in the past as well as larger corporations that focus on corporate volunteer events as part of their workplace values such as Microsoft or Expedia.
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.