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Fruits of the City Survey and Action Plan

May 25, 2012

This spring, Fruits of the City surveyed some of our 2011 volunteers in hopes of gaining a better understanding of their perspectives of our program. Their responses help Fruits of the City improve the overall volunteer experience and ultimately be more effective at supporting our local food shelves with healthy foods. I wanted to share with all of you our survey results as well as our action plans to utilize the great feedback we received.

Findings and Our Changes for Improvements

About half of respondents said they were not available to volunteer during the times we offered or that they were not given enough advance notice. Additionally, respondents stated that there were not enough gleaning opportunities during evenings and weekends.

  • This year we will continue to have regular gleaning times on a consistent schedule. We will be offering volunteer opportunities every Thursday evening and alternating Saturday mornings. Volunteers can plan ahead and expect there to be gleaning opportunities at these times. Once the harvest season is in full swing we will be adding opportunities to the schedule to accommodate all the trees.
  • Our Neighborhood Coordinators will also be communicating with our tree owners to plan ahead and improve our scheduling times. We aim to have a two week notice from our tree owners just before the fruit is ripe. This allows us enough time to advertise the volunteer opportunity.
  • Our online volunteer system Volunteer Hub now allows potential volunteers to see volunteer opportunities before registering.
  • Additionally, we have more Neighborhood Coordinators working with us this year to provide more opportunities at more places. Check out our website to meet the neighborhood coordinators .

A few respondents stated that not having enough information was a barrier to volunteering.

  • We are developing a FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page on our website to address common questions on gleaning, what to bring, and how to best contribute your volunteer help.
  • Contact us anytime at or call 651-789-3321 if you have questions or need assistance/clarification on anything about our program.

About half of respondents stated that gleaning locations were too far away. Additional surveyors said they wanted more gleaning opportunities in general.

  • We would love your help to provide more localized gleaning opportunities. When you see fruit trees in your neighborhood, please let the homeowner know about our program. We are always looking for more tree owners to partner with so we can offer more volunteer opportunities in more locations. Please refer tree owners to Contact us anytime.

A few respondents shared feedback with us on times they volunteered in which there was not enough work for how many volunteers that showed up.

  • This year we plan to work even closer with our tree owners to better gauge how many volunteers we will need for each tree.
  • Please let us know ahead of time if you plan on bringing a friend to a volunteer gleaning so we can best be prepared. We love it when you help us spread the word about Fruits of the City, but please give us a heads up if you know extra volunteers will be attending.
  • Fruits of the City hopes to cluster more tree gleanings in neighborhoods whenever possible. This way, a group of volunteers can efficiently glean from multiple homes in a smaller amount of time.

Some respondents expressed concerns over the quality of fruit being harvested and had questions about how that fruit would be utilized.

  • Last year, Fruits of the City partnered with Sisters’ Camelot to process and utilize the fruits we harvest that have minor visible imperfections and may not be ideal for direct consumption. This year, we will continue this partnership and be able to utilize even more of the fruits available to us.
  • Look for regular email updates from us this fall that highlight some of the food shelves we delivered produce to.  Interest in receiving Fruits of the City email updates?  Contact me at
  • We are also interested in connecting with more food shelves and organizations that have commercial kitchens and dining programs with the capacity to process our locally picked fruits, especially if they are able to use fruits with bruises and minor blemishes.

Findings and Changes we are Considering

A common theme that surfaced was a request for an organized system of carpooling that volunteers can use to make it to volunteer days.

  • Unfortunately, Fruits of the City is unable to provide carpool organizing. While we love the idea of more volunteers carpooling, using public transit, or biking, it is a liability with our current insurance provider to take on this service. We encourage you to volunteer with your neighbors and get to know other volunteer gleaner interested in carpooling.
  • Have ideas or suggestions for how we can organize carpooling and bypass the liability issues? Please contact us.

Additional Findings and Announcements

  • 45% of respondents regularly get around by biking.  Keep up the great work everyone!
  • Many of our volunteer postings on Volunteer Hub include an interactive map so you can easily find the gleaning location. Make sure to register as a Fruits of the City volunteer through Volunteer Hub.
  • Fruits of the City is developing a Tree Care Maintenance Guide for our tree owners. This resource is intended to empower our tree owners so that they are more comfortable and knowledgeable in caring for their trees and thereby improving fruit quality and yields.
  • Fruits of the City offers monthly educational classes geared towards tree owners and gardeners. You can see our list of classes here.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed their time and filled out our spring survey!  I’m sure it’s gonna be a great year for fruit harvesting.

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