Getting to know her neighborhood trees

May 25th, 2017

5.25.17 – Annette first came onto the Food Forward scene in December of 2016 after moving to SoCal from Oregon. In the short time she has been up a tree with us, Annette has led an incredible 43 events (that’s about 7 harvests per month!!) and harvested thousands of pounds of fresh fruit all over the San Gabriel Valley. Annette will be leading the first harvest of the season at the Huntington Gardens on June 3rd so if you’re planning on attending this most fruitastic event, don’t forget to say hello!

Super Volunteer Leader Annette

How did you get started with Food Forward?

I had recently moved here and wanted to volunteer in my community. I was actually having a hard time finding a good match close by until I stumbled upon Food Forward and signed up. I am a sucker for a good story, and Food Forward has a great grassroots beginning that is very inspiring. I was impressed with the amount of food rescued and the different programs developed to do this. I also liked that FF had built relationships with local food justice organizations to ensure that food was getting efficiently distributed to the folks that needed it.

I signed up for a backyard harvest and I was very excited to pick citrus fruit because I had never done it before. I was greeted by a very nice couple, who told me about all about Food Forward and the backyard harvest program. It turned out I was speaking to Gunther, the harvest coordinator for SGV, and his wife. Before I could fill my first box with fruit Gunther had me signed up for the next pick leader training.

What is your favorite part about volunteering with Food Forward?

I volunteer with the backyard harvest program and do most of my picks in the San Gabriel Valley. It has been a great way to get to know this area and connect with the community. I love to forage and glean and so being outside picking fruit is probably my favorite part.

I’ve learned more about the local fruit trees and their growing seasons, which has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of where I live. The number of pickers and frequency of their volunteer hours is heartening. There are many people who care about the community and are willing to donate their time and resources. I believe that the tangibility of picking fruit—people actually having it in their hands—confirms and strengthens the mission of Food Forward.

I’ve learned more about the local fruit trees and their growing seasons, which has helped me to gain a greater appreciation of where I live.

Is there a particularly powerful volunteering moment you’d like to share?

There have been many moments but the most powerful ones are discovering the homeowner’s personal connection to the Food Forward mission. The stories often begin with the fruit trees and then threads through a historical perspective of their neighborhoods and personal journeys to arrive at opening their homes to enthusiastic fruit pickers.

What do you do when you’re not volunteering with Food Forward?

In my new home of Pasadena, I spend time in my garden, hanging out with my chickens, and exploring the mountains nearby. The flora and fauna of the Angeles National Forest are beautiful! I still have community roots in both Alaska and Oregon where I spend time part of the year. In Alaska, I work for a kayak guiding company where I lead trips through the Tongass National Forest. In Oregon, I help organize community events for a non-profit river advocacy organization.

Any words of wisdom you live by?

Be kind. Be open. Listen well. Look often for the invisible.

Annette with her Chicken



Previous Volunteers of the Month: