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Fruits of the City Concludes Successful Gleaning and Giving Season

November 15, 2011

The Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City program recently finished its last gleanings of 2011 that harvested 31,578 pounds of fresh fruit for 20 food shelves and three distribution centers thanks to corporate and community activism. Each pound of fruit was made possible by Heidi Coe, Fruits of the City Coordinator, 100 tree owners, five neighborhood coordinators, and 125 volunteers who worked together to get the fruit from the trees and into the hands of those who do not otherwise have access to fresh produce.

Heidi Coe, Fruits of the City Coordinator, is grateful for the amount and quality of the fruit harvested this year for the food shelves but remarks that this is only one aspect of the program.

“Fruits of the City is not just about the amount of fruit delivered to the food shelves, it’s how to connect with the community, ” Coe said. “The program is about creating awareness of food access issues and being a part of the solution.”

Coe remembers a man from one of the first food shelf drop offs of the year who displayed such gratitude and excitement knowing she was donating apples that day.

“Seeing the emotions that he displayed made me want to make sure he and other people can eat healthy and what they want,” Coe continued. “An apple shouldn’t be a treat, it should be a part of peoples’ daily diet.”

Ann Strong, a chiropractor with a keen interest in nutrition and consistent Fruits of the City volunteer, got involved because she wanted to do her part to ensure healthy foods are going to the food shelves. Strong explained that sicknesses such as cancer and diabetes can be prevented through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe.

“Conventional foods are so depleted that many people are not getting the trace minerals and vitamins they need and we are becoming a sicker society,” Strong said. “Those who rely on food shelves aren’t able to be fully functioning members of our society with the prepackaged foods widely available there.”

Jared Walhowe, a 2011 neighborhood coordinator, began working for Fruits of the City and The Minnesota Project because he thought it was a great way to help his community through a program that is a leader in food justice and local food initiatives.

“The best part of being a coordinator is simply working for a program that works,” Walhowe said.

“You see this in the food shelves that have gone from having limited access to fresh foods to being saturated with apples after our gleanings.” Walhowe further explained, “You also see this out harvesting fruit with volunteers that are eager to do something meaningful and fun that builds community while you enjoy the beautiful fall weather with others that are happy to be involved.”

Dana Van Der Heide began volunteering when Fruits of the City caught her eye because it seemed to be an easy way to support public awareness and accessibility to nutrition. She continued to participate in seven gleanings because she enjoyed the atmosphere of the program and it gave her an opportunity to be outside.

“There’s only so much TV I can watch before I get bored, but there seems to be no end to the number of apples, pears, etc. that I can pick,” Van Der Heide said.

Without the generous support from SuperValu and General Mills, Fruits of the City’s gleaners, neighborhood coordinators and tree owners would not be able to come together to work and learn with each other in this partnership that looks to engage and connect more people to food justice initiatives in the coming years.

“Through this I’ve gained an enhanced understanding of my community and the opportunities within it,” Walhowe said. “I’ve realized new possibilities for bringing about change through acknowledging the strengths and resources we have such as surpluses of food and volunteers willing to help and it is clear that their efforts are impactful.”

If you’d like to ensure the future of Fruits of the City’s community initiatives that work to expand the access of fresh produce for all, consider making a donation today for Give to the Max Day !

Photos also by Valerie Steffl

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    November 16, 2011 3:56 pm

    Congratulations and thank you for the apples!

  2. December 14, 2011 3:40 pm

    Kudos to The Minnesota Project for launching such a meaningful gleaning program. I’m happy to know that personal-scale, urban production of fruit can be successfully aggregated and distributed by an inspired, diligent and well-coordinated group of volunteers. Their quotes were really powerful! This article offers proof-of-impact on how city residents can directly support food justice in their community and contribute to a more self-sustaining urban foodshed.

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