Emergency Food Network


Volunteer Outreach and Retention

Volunteer outreach and retention have been the most challenging aspects of the PCGP. However, by employing the strategies discussed below, the PCGP has cultivated a dedicated volunteer base needed to expand its impact.

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Celebrating Volunteers

Gleaning can be hard work and it can’t be done without dedicated volunteers and farm partners. The Pierce County Gleaning Project has made an end-of-the season celebration an annual tradition.

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Community Engagement in Pierce County

To get the word out about its broad, new project the PCGP used various “out of the box” approaches to reach a wide audience.

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Registering Donors

“Registering” fruit tree owners has been challenging because most fruit tree owners the gleaning coordinator contacted were equipped to harvest their own fruit and uninterested in gleaning. To work around this, the VISTA produced the PCGP Postcard designed for folks to share with their neighbors who have fruit trees that could benefit from gleaning. In conjunction with other outreach efforts, this has resulted in about a 100 percent increase in the number of fruit tree registrations.

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History of Pierce County Gleaning Project

The Pierce County Gleaning Project is the first organized gleaning effort in Pierce County since early 2000. The Project began in 2009 at St. Leo’s Food Connection and in Fall 2010 it grew with the placement of an AmeriCorps*VISTA gleaning coordinator at the Emergency Food Network.

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Produce Recovery

Gleaning Farmers Markets in Tacoma

In its first year, the PCGP gleaning coordinator tabled and gleaned a weekly farmers market in downtown Tacoma. It was a great way to outreach to local farmers and resulted in 7,300 pounds of gleaned produce, milk and bread for St. Leo’s.

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Plant Starts in Pierce County

The PCGP gleaning coordinator worked with the Pierce County community garden coordinator to distribute plant starts in support of the Plant a Row for the Hungry (PAR) campaign.

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Backyard Fruit Tree Gleaning

Drawing inspiration from Seattle gleaning groups such as Lettuce Link’s Community Fruit Tree Harvest and City Fruit, the PCGP coordinator organized a fruit harvest in five neighborhoods in Tacoma, based on neighborhood council boundaries. While the second year of harvesting fruit trees has reaped more than eight times its first year harvest total, it has not been without challenges.

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Community Giving Gardens

Pierce County is fortunate to have a Share the Harvest Program coordinator that works with the Tacoma/Pierce County Community Gardens. The program is focused on establishing a culture of sharing between urban gardens and the emergency food network.

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Food Bank Farms and Gardens

Food Bank Farms and Gardens are great ways to get a steady supply of fresh produce to those who need it most.

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Nutrition and Cooking Education

The Pierce County Gleaning Project found a variety of ways to educate clients on nutrition and to connect with existing community efforts.

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The Pierce County Gleaning Project focuses on a fruit tree harvest in Tacoma, gleaning from local farms as well as farmers markets, and a Plant a Row for the Hungry campaign for county gardeners.