Target: Katy Kolker, Executive Director of the Portland Fruit Tree Project
Goal: Praise the organization’s work improving access to nutritious fruit while reducing spoilage and waste for Portland’s fruit tree owners
Many agricultural societies practiced gleaning: the collection of excess crops at harvest time in order to feed the poor. In modern America hunger is, unfortunately, still a major concern. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that more than half a million people struggled with food insecurity between 2010-12 in the state of Oregon alone.
The Portland Fruit Tree Project is improving access to nutritious food in Oregon’s largest city, bringing people together “to pick fruit that would otherwise go to waste, and [making] it available to people in need.” The organization partners with homeowners whose fruit trees are producing more than they can manage. Volunteers are invited to come and pick the excess fruit, half of which goes to area food banks. While anyone can sign up to be a harvesting party volunteer, half the spaces are reserved for people surviving on low incomes. In addition the organization offers workshops on tree care and food preservation, and helps support three community orchards.
Not only is the Portland Fruit Tree Project helping address food insecurity in Oregon–one of the hungriest states, according to the USDA–but it is also helping local residents help each other. On its website the organization explains its driving philosophy: “By empowering neighbors to share in the harvest and care of urban fruit trees, we are preventing waste, building community knowledge and resources, and creating sustainable, cost-free ways to obtain healthy, locally-grown food.” Executive Director Katy Kolker has been recognized numerous times for her leadership and innovation.
Applaud the tireless work of the staff and volunteers at the Portland Fruit Tree Project on behalf of their local community.
Dear Ms. Kolker,
As you know, Oregon is persistently ranked among the top five hungriest states in America. Many Portlanders struggle with accessing enough nutritious food to feed their families, even as produce spoils beneath urban fruit trees. By supporting homeowners looking to prevent waste and volunteers eager to help harvest excess fruit your organization has done a great deal to combat hunger.
The impressive list of community partners, foundations and charitable trusts supporting your work speaks volumes. The Portland Fruit Tree Project is providing an invaluable service, and has deservedly received widespread support. I applaud your dedication to this cause and wish you success in your ongoing work.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: MikeyMoose via Wikimedia Commons