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 in 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 plans to offer a fruit education series, which will include 8 classes. These will include a pruning workshop, grafting workshop, backyard pest prevention, planning to plant fruits and berries, and a few food preservation classes. In the past three years, SETP has not charged a fee for any of their classes, but plans to charge a small amount in 2017, as an income generator. This fee will be roughly $10 per class, and will often be discounted for homeowners who donate their fruit to SETP. SETP hopes that this will encourage individuals who donate fruit to SETP to attend and learn how to best take care of their trees.
The preservation classes will focus on teaching homeowners and community members how to make use of their excess fruit. Attendees will be able to take some of whatever they make home. The classes are offered in a commercial kitchen, and therefore can meet all necessary standards. In 2016, SETP offered an applesauce class where early apples that were slightly buggy were used to make applesauce. Attendees took some applesauce home and the rest was offered to individuals for a $5 donation, which also helped to bring in some income for SETP.
Marketing and advertising for the class will be done in various ways. The events will be posted on SETP’s Facebook page and website. Also, a brochure will be created that will include all class details and costs by January 1, so that people are able to get these classes on their calendar. WSU Extension also uses the Spokane Community College platform to advertise these classes. Individuals can sign up and pay through this system. The classes will also be 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.
Evaluations for the classes will be produced and analyzed by the 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.
The Spokane Edible Tree Project (SETP) was founded in 2013 by former HAH 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 operated fully on volunteers for the first three years. In 2016, they recruited their first HAH Americorps VISTA, who serves as the program coordinator for the organization. SETP has continued to grow and develop over the last three years, and has worked hard to make a name for itself in the community. In 2016, their most successful year yet, 42,000 lbs of fruit were harvested and donated to various community partners.
WSU Extension of Spokane County has been a valuable partner for SETP, as they have helped to support and supervise the HAH Americorps VISTA. The extension office was also essential partners in developing the SETP educational programming.