Market Recovery

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:

  • Before launching the market recovery program, SETP contacted farmers’ market staff to receive permission to ask market vendors for donations of excess produce.
  • Each day that the market was open, SETP volunteers arrived shortly before closing time. The volunteers asked each vendor if they had any leftover produce they wanted to donate.
  • The donated produce was loaded into reusable crates purchased by SETP.
  • The crates were loaded into a vehicle (typically, the volunteer’s personal vehicle), and transported to a refrigerated storage unit owned by a community partner, Catholic Charities Food For All.
  • The produce was weighed on a scale owned by SETP. The varieties and weights of produce were noted by the volunteers and emailed to SETP’s AmeriCorps VISTA so that they could be entered into an Excel spreadsheet for internal record keeping.
  • The recovered produce was picked up from the refrigerated storage unit by staff from Catholic Charities Food For All for distribution to tenants of low-income housing.

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.


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