Our fruit never tasted so local.

On Saturday we had the opportunity to harvest fruit at a home in the Mayfair neighborhood, less than one mile from our farm. The mood of the Veggielution Harvest crew was happily elevated since this was the first time we scheduled a harvest for one of our target East San José neighborhoods. The harvest was a major success! The total yield for both grapefruit and lemons came out to be 377 pounds, taking up 18 crates and half of our truck space. It’s always exciting to see the fruit exceed our expectations! As we harvested, neighbors drove by with eyes of curiosity, wondering who these people are and how they have access to take so much fruit from one house! Well, the answer to their unspoken question is our connection to the homeowner, Elliot.

Leading up to each harvest, I spend my week coordinating with homeowners to schedule a harvest date. January is all about the citrus, and the Eastside is flowing with trees. I started tree scouting (door-to-door outreach) in the December weeks before the holidays. I personally say that tree scouting during the day is not necessarily the most “effective” method when it comes to gathering a huge interest, but the benefit is, when the door opens, I can build a true face to face relationship with the homeowner. I’ve seen that this personal connection greatly increases the chances of us getting permission to harvest their tree.

The day before we all went on break for the holidays, I was walking around the Mayfair neighborhood along Kammerer Ave. where Mayfair Community Center and the new Family Resource Center are located. I left a flyer at Elliot’s home a couple weeks ago with no response so I decided to knock again. Luckily, someone answered the door this time! It was Elliot’s nephew, who suggested that I come back at 4:30 to talk with Elliot when he’s home. After knocking on many doors, this was the most eager response so of course I made sure to be back at 4:30.

I was excited to meet Elliot and tell him about our program. After chatting with him about how our program was a perfect fit, we decided to schedule the harvest on January 7th, the first harvest of the new year. During our conversation, Elliot mentioned that he usually lets neighbors come by and pick the fruit.

His comment stuck out as a reminder to me that we are not coming into these neighborhoods with a new concept of sharing excess fruit, but rather we are simply providing a second distribution channel for homeowners.

The week of the event, I stopped by Elliot’s home to say hello and remind him about the scheduled harvest. Although it was a brief conversation, I soaked in the simplicity of being able to knock on someone’s door knowing that the homeowner recognized my face. It’s one aspect of Neighborhood Harvest that we aim to cultivate- getting to know our neighbors.

As we harvested on Saturday, I envisioned new opportunities opening up in Mayfair to harvest new trees, learn from the tight knit community, and share the harvest with each other. From fruit distribution at Mayfair Community Center to inviting neighbors out to harvest and taste test, there were endless ideas. The flexibility of Neighborhood Harvest as a program with simple structures, allowing us to shape it to the characteristics of each neighborhood, is something I greatly appreciate and do not want to take for granted as we harvest into the coming months and years on. I look forward to meeting more people like Elliot and have a local resident to properly represent each home, block, and neighborhood in our collective food recovery journey.

We would love for you to join us. To volunteer or be a fruit donor, clickhere!