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Fruits of the City Launch Party: A Recap and a Thank You

July 15, 2010

Bluegrass performer Nick Jordan of Monymusk

We want to extend our many thanks to all the folks who attended the Fruits of the City Launch Party this past Sunday at Lake Harriet. We had gorgeous weather, great speakers and music, and made a lot of connections. We were even on MPR the morning of the event. This is just the beginning!

These days the demand for fresh foods for Minnesota’s hungry often far outstrips the supply. According to statistics from the Star Tribune, in 2008, visits to Minnesota food shelves exceeded 2 million for the first time.  We had the opportunity on Sunday to meet with and talk to dozens of potential volunteers and tree owners from around the Twin Cities. With this kind of momentum, we’ll make this year’s gleaning season bigger and reach even more food shelves in need.  

Our speakers each touched on a unique aspect of the program. Special thanks to SUPERVALU for the platters of catered treats, and to Mary Vander Leest, Community Relations Manager at SUPERVALU, for speaking about SUPERVALU’s decision to fund the Fruits of the City program.

Jeffrey Johnson, a horticulturist at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, talked about the importance of proper fruit tree gleaning techniques and tree care. He will be leading our information-loaded Fruit Tree Care Classes in the fall for any interested tree owners.

Newly-dubbed neighborhood coordinator Terri Burnor described how she went from gleaning volunteer in 2009 to taking on more responsibility and a deeper involvement with the program by becoming a coordinator. She’ll help scout trees in her neighborhood, check for ripeness, and organize groups to go gleaning when the time is right.

Tony Mans, director of food sourcing at Second Harvest Heartland, talked about last year’s orchard gleaning and the impact on the food shelves of produce in large quantities. An orchard gleaning is a great way to secure a lot of fresh produce in one afternoon of gleaning.

Leah Lundquist, a former gleaning leader, described the reactions of joy she witnessed on the faces of food shelf recipients when last year’s Fruits volunteers showed up at the food shelf with boxes laden with apples. That reaction of thanksgiving and that look of joy: that’s what Fruits of the City is all about.

Some of the other questions that came up:

What is the time commitment?

As little or as much as you can offer. We’ll host gleanings regularly throughout the fall, and volunteers can offer a few hours of a Saturday for one gleaning event, attend every one, or become a neighborhood coordinator for an even deeper level of involvement. Neighborhood coordinators keep this program running like a well-oiled machine. We couldn’t do it without them!

How do I stay informed about upcoming events?

Sign up for our email updates at Fruits of the City. We’ll keep you in the loop.

What neighborhoods have the highest concentrations of fruits trees?

Registered trees are located in neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding suburbs, but the program has the potential to spread to areas around the state. One attendee on Sunday asked if we were gleaning in areas south of the river. We say if there are a critical mass of trees there to be gleaned, we’ll send a team.

Is it just apples getting picked?

Nope. Since the demand is certainly there at the food shelves, we’re able to glean pears, and plums, It’s mainly apples, but we’re willing to “branch” out.

If you couldn’t attend this past weekend but would like to register as a gleaner or register your tree, you can do so through Volunteer Hub. Registration is free, and it will help us organize our volunteers. You will be able to sign up for individual gleaning events through this site.

Did you attend the event Sunday? Let us know what you thought!

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