Sunday, September 4, 2011

2011-09-04 "Vallejo couple ready to harvest fruit, goodwill" by Lanz Christian Bañes from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Vallejo School Board member Adrienne Water and her partner Jay DeYoung have begun a new local organization called Food Rescue, a community fruit tree harvest and food exchange program. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)
It's like a new twist on a perennial question: If an apple falls in your backyard and no one is around, can anyone hear it?
Adrienne Waterman and Jay DeYoung can -- and its waste makes them wince.
"It's just happening everywhere," said DeYoung in the lush backyard of the Vallejo home he shares with Waterman and their three young children.
With the economic malaise and hungry neighbors on their mind, the couple launched Food Rescue, a local nonprofit aimed at eliminating that waste and, perhaps, filling a few tummies.
The premise is simple, though the logistics have proved to be a bit complex. Property owners with trees that give more fruit than they can eat allow Food Rescue volunteers to pick the fruit for them.
After the harvest is measured, weighed and recorded, the best fruit is left for the property owner while the rest is divided between the volunteers and local food charities.
"Our commitment is to make sure food is not wasted," said Waterman, who sits on the Vallejo City Unified School District governing board.
Amidst the corn, tomatoes and fava beans in their backyard, DeYoung and Waterman have seven fruit trees.
When people plant vegetable gardens or backyard farms, it's usually on purpose, she said. But often, fruit trees are inherited from previous property owners, and some owners just can't bear the bounty, Waterman said.
Indeed, several homeowners with trees whose ripening fruit can end up as mushy, rotten ground cover have already asked to be on the Food Rescue harvest list, Waterman said.
She and DeYoung spent three or four months developing their idea into Food Rescue, which is applying for its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Much of the last formative months were spent working out logistics, such as liability issues and creating a mini orientation/training for volunteers.
"I want property owners to know we take their privacy and property very seriously," Waterman said, vowing volunteers will be vetted and professional when stepping onto private property.
Food Rescue will donate its fruit to Vallejo People's Garden, the Solano AIDS Coalition, the Florence Douglas Senior Center and the Amador Street Hope Center, focusing on local food charities. Eventually, Food Rescue will include a canning consortium in order to preserve fruit that'd otherwise go bad.
"That's the hard part, because it's perishable," DeYoung said.
Already, several harvests are planned in the next several weeks. Volunteers are welcome for both the physical labor part and the data-input and other support positions.
Donations are also welcome, especially equipment such as orchard ladders.
Waterman said there will be several spurts of harvests as different fruit mature at different times of the year. For more information, visit or call Waterman at (707) 704-3334.

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