We need YOU! Join us by getting outside and picking fruit!
What do we need you for?
It’s citrus season here in Southern California, which means there are fruit on the trees ready to be harvested! We are lucky to have hundreds of homeowners who are ready to donate their fruit to local hunger-relief agencies, but we cannot do it on our own. We need more volunteer leaders to help us pick fruit and make sure it gets to people who can use it! Can you help us by becoming a Pick Leader for our backyard harvests?
What are Food Forward’s Backyard Harvests?
Food Forward fights hunger and prevents food waste by rescuing fresh surplus produce, connecting this abundance with people in need and inspiring others to do the same. One of the ways we do this is through our backyard harvests. Our backyard harvesting program sends teams of volunteers out to harvest fruit that would otherwise go uneaten. After the pick, 100% of the fresh fruit collected is donated to local hunger relief agencies. Don Shenk has been volunteering with us for six years, leading a pick about once a month, and he says, “it’s truly one of the best things I get to do with my life and my time. I’m a believer in Food Forward!”
How do Backyard Harvests work?
Every fruit harvest is led by a Pick Leader, who are amazing volunteers who wanted to get more involved with Food Forward! Pick Leaders choose to lead harvests from a list of pre-vetted properties in neighborhoods all throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. Food Forward staff coordinates the logistics, and Pick Leaders bring the Food Forward equipment and oversee volunteers at each pick. Some are small harvests with only a handful of volunteers, and others are large, with over 50 volunteers!
Why become a Pick Leader?
Pick Leaders are VITAL to what we do and the impact we have on the community. Stephanie Truong, who has been a Pick Leader with us for about six months, reflected on her experience by saying, “It doesn’t take much to make a big impact. Majority of harvests take about 2 hours max. In that 2 hours, we can harvest over 600 lbs. of fruit that would have otherwise been rotting on the floor!” Many leaders also love getting to be outside while making a difference in people’s lives. Chrissy Wahlstrom, who has served as a pick leader for over six years, explains: “the smell of citrus on a Sunday morning cannot be beat! But mainly I want everyone to have access to healthy foods and I love being a part of that process.” Other leaders have found leading picks to be a great opportunity to build a community. Barbara Daouda says, “I already knew I would enjoy the picks, but I also met some amazing people along the way, from volunteers to office staff to homeowners, everyone has been wonderful to interact with. I’m not the most outgoing person, but everyone in the program is very approachable and friendly. I’m loving the whole experience.”
Interested? Here are some next steps to help YOU become a Pick Leader.
We would LOVE to have you join us! Anyone can apply to be a Pick Leader, and it’s an easy process. After volunteering two times, submit an Event Leader Application to our program staff. Then, you just need to attend a training session and shadow an experienced leader. Following those few steps, you are ready to start leading events and harvesting fruit! If you have any questions along the way, we are always willing to chat and help you out.
This post was written by Food Forward’s Volunteer Management Program Assistant, Elise Froebe.