Operating in Moscow, Backyard Harvest has evolved from a one-woman operation to a multi-faceted organization. They now “help mobilize volunteers to glean (harvest) extra fruits and vegetables from private residences on the Palouse and in the Lewis-Clark Valley” to distribute to those with food instability.
Executive Director, Misty Amarena says collaboration is a large part of their services. “We currently collaborate with a variety of nonprofits and social service agencies in our area. We share events and opportunities among each group to ensure community members with needs are aware of important opportunities to address those needs.
“We co-sponsor or co-host events such as working with our local land trust to host gleanings in public spaces that community members can pick on their own, too. Many of the food banks/pantries we work with are non-profits or associated with social service agencies and we often distribute fruit to nonprofit after school/summer programs such as the YMCA of the Palouse.”
Backyard Harvest has measured success throughout the years by “pounds of produce gleaned and distributed, approximate number of community members served, as well as the number of SNAP/EBT transactions processed through the Shop the Market Program.” However, they are introducing more techniques. “We recently began tracking the number and type of food access sites we are working with to better track our efforts of supporting the most rural and in-need programs, pantries, and people. Lastly, this year we have begun tracking the estimated what the produce we donate would have cost food access sites or community members so that we can put monetary value on our services” says Amarena
The Shop the Market program, established in 2008, allows individuals and families using EBT (food stamps) to purchase local fresh produce.
Amarena has learned many organizational intricacies while on the job: “I wish I had known just how hard it is and how long it takes to pick cherries -- everything must be done by hand and often requires frequent moving of ladders.”
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