Local non-profit Salem Harvest held its annual Garden Party fundraiser on Sept. 10. The event was hosted by Bill & Julie Walters in the historic Fairmount district of Salem and sponsored by Dewey Whitton of The Salem Real Estate Group.
Salem Harvest connects farmers and backyard growers with volunteer pickers to feed hungry families by harvesting fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. The group’s principal purpose is the distribution of food without charge to children or homeless, unemployed, elderly, or low-income individuals.
Founded in 2010, Salem Harvest has donated more than a million pounds of fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables to Marion-Polk Food Share and other local food banks since that time. A cheerful army of 2,600 volunteers makes Salem Harvest the largest community harvesting organization in Oregon, the state with the nation’s highest rate of childhood hunger. Harvests offers an opportunity for families to work together in the outdoors, meet local farmers, and gain a better understanding of where food comes from, and volunteers with qualifying community members at home, such as low-income households, children, or the elderly, are permitted to take home up to half of the amount they harvest, providing low-cost access to healthy, locally sourced fruits and vegetables.
Events such as the Garden Party help Salem Harvest in funding vital operational initiatives that make it easier to bring the donated crops of local growers – harvested through the efforts of local community members volunteering their time – to the most needy inhabitants of the Salem area. For example, last year the company purchased its first wholly owned vehicle, allowing it to tow trailers full of crops without having to access the resources of Marion-Polk Food Share or other community organizations. Salem Harvest will also be making its first cookbook available this year in time for the holiday gift-giving season, in which volunteers contributed recipes that utilize the crops the organization harvests throughout the season.
Those attending the Garden Party enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and desserts prepared by local area chefs using a bounty of fresh ingredients renowned in the Willamette Valley, listened to live music by the Confluence: Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus, drank a selection of Oregon wines and purchased bottles from a mystery wine wall, and had the opportunity to win fabulous raffle prizes, including a certificate for Willamette Valley Vineyards’ “Pinot Experience” and two cooking classes at Lullu’s Tutto Cucina.
As it enters its busy fall harvest season, Salem Harvest continues to invite all farmers, neighborhood tree owners, and potential volunteers to join in its mission: To build a compassionate community where neighbors help neighbors in a spirit of goodwill, where hungry families can gain self-sufficiency, where our urban and rural bounty is recognized and appreciated, and where simple, sustainable lifestyles are celebrated.
To learn more about volunteering for upcoming harvests, including upcoming opportunities for pears, grapes, onions, winter squash, and zucchini, or about supporting Salem Harvest by attending an upcoming fundraiser or through tax-deductible direct donation, readers can visit the organization’s website at salemharvest.org.
Email for volunteers: firstname.lastname@example.org
General inquiries: elise@salemharvest/org
Executive Director: Elise Bauman