Our Vice President and Fruit Tree Program Coordinator, James McKerricher, attended this event on behalf of LUSH Valley. Here’s what he had to say about it:
The third annual Gleaning Symposium held in Seattle this year was a unique opportunity to connect with gleaning organizations from all over the USA and Canada. The two-day event was hosted by Rotary First Harvest (Washington) and the Green Urban Lunch Box (Utah) in partnership with Seattle-based City Fruit. With 67 individuals representing 53 organizations, the event was well attended and provided a nice diversity of perspectives.
The symposium covered a wide range of topics: from inspired conversations regarding ways to engage the community and make fundamental change, to approaches on data collection that allow us to tell our story more vividly and better track the work we do, to insights and perspectives from farmers. Highlights included: a visit to Seattle Cider Co. where we heard about their collaboration with City Fruit, and a field trip to Carnation Farms where we explored the diverse range of projects they are undertaking – from incubator farms to kids camps, and much much more.
It was interesting to have the perspective of other organizations to better clarify the work we do and the culture that surrounds it. Despite the wide range of organizations in terms of mandate, geography, size, and approach; there were many reoccurring themes. Most of the organizations seem to be encountering similar problems and challenges, and all were dealing with them in their own way. It would seem that on Vancouver Island we’re a bit ahead of the curve in terms of the overall volume of produce we glean and the concentration of gleaning organizations. I feel fortunate to live in an area of such abundance.
The major take-home message for me was that our work encompasses so much more than simply making the most of potentially wasted food, and the effects of this work can be difficult to quantify. By asking the right questions we can better enable ourselves to: gauge our effectiveness, track our ability to create lasting change, provide the most valuable services to all of our collaborators, and tell our story so that we can continue to better engage our community.