Backyard Harvest engages with a diverse array of volunteers, and each volunteer brings with them a unique motivation for participating. One of our regular volunteers this year, “Linda,” was on parole and needed to complete a certain amount of court-ordered community service hours. Linda had also fallen on hard times financially, and was struggling to make ends meet. Through volunteering at gleanings with Backyard Harvest, Linda was able to both complete her community service hours and bring home fresh, healthy, local produce, free of charge; what’s more, Linda also developed relationships with other volunteers and members of the Backyard Harvest team over the course of the season, even bringing family members to a gleaning event.
The work that Linda did with Backyard Harvest was more than just community service hours—her volunteer work was also an accessible, intensely local way to get to know the people, places, and foods that make her community what it is, while also combating food insecurity on an individual level. Our work engages community members of all walks of life, and provides everybody with equal access to fresh food, whether they are volunteering with us or receiving our produce through a food access site. Linda’s story is compelling, and when we consider the more than 150 volunteers we worked with and the over 2,000 community members our produce reached, it’s clear that our programs made a difference.
-Will O’Neil, AmeriCorps Member for Backyard Harvest