Spokane Edible Tree Project expanded their produce recovery efforts to include the local farmers’ market in 2017. Twice a week, SETP volunteers arrived at the Spokane Farmers’ Market at closing time to pick up donations from vendors.
Here’s how it worked during its inaugural year:
In the first year of the program, approximately 3,000 pounds of produce was donated by market vendors. Spokane’s market season runs from May to October. In the second year, the program was expanded to include tax-deductible receipts for all of the farmers who wished to receive one. Upon asking, not all farmers were interested, but those who gave SETP the value at each market. At the end of the growing season, SETP sent thank you’s to each participating farmer, including a tax receipt for the farmers who requested one. SETP added up the values from the year in an excel document, totaling approximately $5,000 worth of produce, with a collected total of over 3,200 pounds of produce for the year.
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.