Since its inception, SETP has been committed to educating the community in fruit tree care and food preservation. They have offered a variety of classes such as fruit tree pruning, apple cider vinegar making, and best fruit varieties for the Inland Northwest. Many individuals in Spokane “inherit” fruit trees, as they are already on their property when they move into a house. The homeowners often have no prior knowledge of how to take care of trees. Therefore, fruit tree care education is essential to SETP’s mission because, in order to glean the best quality of fruit, tree owners need to know how to properly care for these resources.
In 2017, in partnership with WSU Extension, SETP offered a fruit education series, which included 8 classes. This included a pruning workshop, grafting workshop, backyard pest prevention, growing fruits and berries, and fruit tree selection for the Inland Northwest. In the past three years, SETP has not charged a fee for any of their classes, but charged a small amount in 2017, as an income generator. This fee was roughly $10 per class and was discounted for homeowners who donate their fruit to SETP. SETP did this in hopes of encouraging individuals who donate fruit to SETP to attend and learn how to best take care of their trees.
Marketing and advertising for the class were done in various ways. The events were posted on SETP’s Facebook page and website. Also, a brochure was created that included all class details and costs by January 1, so that people were able to get these classes on their calendar. WSU Extension also used the Spokane Community College platform to advertise these classes. Individuals were able to sign up and pay through this system. The classes were also sent out in SETP’s newsletters and will be targeted towards tree owners and community members. The food preservation classes will also be advertised through SETP partners (Catholic Charities Food for All, Second Harvest, and other food pantries) in the hopes of reaching individuals that may suffer from food insecurity.
In 2019, the third VISTA will coordinate a series of classes that were similar to the 2018 season, and hopes to include an organic pest prevention class, a holistic orchard practice class, fruit preservation classes, and a hands-on “how to bag apples for pest prevention” class (Spring season).
Evaluations for the classes in 2019 will be produced and analyzed by the third HAH VISTA. This will ensure that the classes may be improved upon each year, and also may help in identifying other class topics that SETP stakeholders may wish to see.
Spokane Edible Tree Project (SETP) was founded in 2013 by former Harvest Against Hunger Americorps VISTA Kate Burke. Through her work in a produce recovery position at Second Harvest Food Bank, she recognized the abundance of fruit trees in Spokane County and noticed that much of this fruit goes to waste. SETP was formed to fill this gap in the system and to empower the community to share the resources that are so abundantly available to them. SETP became a certified 501(c)(3) in 2015. The organization is currently run by community volunteers and a Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA.
In 2016, SETP recruited their first Harvest Against Hunger AmeriCorps VISTA, who served as the program coordinator for the organization. The second-year VISTA (2017-2018) expanded the program to include gleaning produce from the Spokane Farmers’ Market. Their third-year VISTA (2018-2019) continues to coordinate gleaning, outreach, volunteer recruitment, grant-writing, and educational programming. Together, the work of the three VISTA’s prevented more than 100,000 pounds of produce from going to waste in Spokane County. Additionally, WSU Extension of Spokane County has been a valuable partner for SETP, supporting and supervising the AmeriCorps VISTA. The extension office has also been an essential partner in developing SETP’s educational program.