By Ariel Aaronson-Eves
I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate with Spokane Edible Tree Project because, as a newcomer to Spokane, I wanted a way to immerse myself in the local ecosystem, that of farms and non-profits and people alongside that of plants. I've learned a good deal in this role, from how to identify and control cherry fruit fly to how excessive heat can slow the ripening of stone fruits. I've learned a lot about running a non-profit and how to fundraise and much, much more. I've gotten to work with hardworking and generous farmers up in Green Bluff and work on cultivating and deepening relationships with them. I can't help but see the abundance of fruit growing in residential Spokane neighborhoods. I've gotten to spread the good word of our work to nearly everyone I meet, from passers-by at the Perry Street Fair and VegFest to folks I meet around town. I've gotten to eat a lot of delicious fresh fruit, and I've helped get thousands of pounds of local produce into the hands of folks who wouldn't otherwise have access.
I've been struggling to write a final reflection on my time with Spokane Edible Tree Project because it doesn't feel like an ending, it feels like a beginning. It is just the first chapter of my life in Spokane. I feel grounded in this place because, as I have gleaned and scouted trees, it has fed me. I know the tastes of Spokane in June, July, and August. I have taken this place into my body with every bite, and although I may not be from here, I will carry Spokane with me in my body for at least the next seven years. This, I think, is part of the power of local foods — they bind us, irrevocably, to a place. I can't imagine a better way to have gotten to know Spokane.