Reflections of a Summer VISTA

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.

Glean For Good: Thursday Night and Saturday Morning Gleans

Starting Thursday, July 5!

Gleaning season is about to begin and this year, Spokane Edible Tree Project will be hosting regular gleans on Thursday evenings from 6 to 8 and Saturday mornings from 9 or 10 until noon. We will also have occasional gleans scheduled ad hoc at other times during the week, but our hope is that having consistently scheduled volunteer gleaning opportunities will provide useful structure for our volunteers, our staff, and our tree owners.

We intend to start our regularly scheduled gleans the first week of July and run through the end of October. There will of course be some exceptions, as dictated by the fruit availability, the weather, and occasional other commitments. We’ve set up mailing lists especially for our Thursday night and Saturday morning gleans, where we will send out information each week, and will also be posting information on our Facebook page. You can sign up for the Thursday and Saturday mailing lists through the buttons below.

SETP Hosts Food Forest Planting Event at Polly Judd

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April and early May is the time for Spokane Gives Month in the beautiful city of Spokane. Spokane Gives Month presents an opportunity for community members to give back by participating in volunteer projects throughout the city. The initiative is generously put on by our friends over at United Way Spokane.  

On May 5th, 2018, Spokane Edible Tree Project participated in the initiative by hosting a Food Forest Planting Event with Friends of Polly Judd at Polly Judd Park in an effort to build up the long time dream of having a Food Forest in the heart of the park. 

With the help of native shrub donations from the Spokane Conservation District, a Spokane Gives Initiative Grant from Spokane County United Way, and the hard work of a volunteer crew, 14 edible trees and shrubs were added to the Polly Judd Food Forest. Two filbert, two apricot, five native elderberries and five native Saskatoon serviceberries were planted.

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The sod was cut from the ground as the first step, followed by the digging of holes at proper depth. This was not always easy. Rocks had to be broken, which were removed from the soil and repurposed as rock mulch for the Polly Judd native pollinator garden. The rocks were also used to begin creating a rock wall around the garden. When the holes were finally dug, the trees were placed in the Earth, surrounded with the field soil, and wood chips were placed around the trees to act as a mulch.

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The Polly Judd Food Forest is also part of the The Susie Forest Foundation. Susie was an avid cyclist and activist for pedestrian rights. Tragically, she was killed in a motor vehicle accident 15 years ago while actively pursuing her mission to create positive change in this world. Her mother, Nancy MacKerrow, lives in the lower south hill neighborhood in Spokane. After Susie’s death, she set up a Susie Forest Foundation to honor her by planting trees as a way of bringing back life from a tragic situation. Two plum trees and a linden tree were planted in her honor at the Polly Judd Earth Day Celebration in 2018, which Spokane Edible Tree project was honored to be a part of. As a dedication, community members wrote their hopes down on paper and hung them on the branches of the trees. The sentiment is that the hopes of the community will eventually biodegrade into the soil, alchemizing them to become one with the tree.

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Inland Northwest Food Network Scion Exchange

Inland Northwest Food Network Scion Exchange

The Inland Northwest Food Network is hosting a community scion exchange on Saturday, March 24. Scion wood is a shoot or twig of a tree that has been cut for grafting. At the exchange, you'll find over 100 varieties of scion wood for purchase. The exchange runs from 11am to 3pm at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 15319 E 8th Avenue, Spokane Valley. It's free to attend.

More details here:

INW Food Network is also holding grafting workshop with Jim McGinty from 11am to 1pm, but the workshop is sold out.