A Summer in the Life: One VISTA’s Perspective01 Sep 2021, by City Fruit in
Ife Asabi served as a Summer Associate VISTA at City Fruit in Seattle, WA. City Fruit harvests and gleans thousands of pounds of fruit each year from Seattle’s public and private orchards, and distributes it to local food banks, food programs, restaurants, bakeries, and farmers markets to create a more sustainable and equitable food system. The City Fruit team “helps tree owners grow healthy fruit, provides assistance in harvesting and preserving fruit, promotes the sharing of extra fruit, and works to protect urban fruit trees.” Below, Ife reflects on what brought them to VISTA service with City Fruit this summer, their perspective on Seattle food systems as a newcomer to Washington state, some highlights from their Summer Associate experience and a special mention of a furry friend who helped Ife unwind off the clock!
Ife has an intense passion for social justice and equity all around the board. Working through City Fruit and Harvest VISTA has enlightened them on many interesting facets incorporated in the food justice system.
Ife has only moved to Washington recently and this position has allowed them to expand their geographical lens of the area in a short amount of time. Driving through different neighborhoods and communities on a daily basis has really opened their eyes to the distinct difference in food accessibility the city of Seattle alone has to offer in comparison to their hometown of Oakland, California. Seattle is truly abundant with fresh fruit, and Ife is saddened to see so much of it still going to waste due to limited staff and resources at organizations like City Fruit. They wish to discover a way that allows for even more fresh fruit to land in the mouths and hands of the people who need it most by involving more locals and the community in the harvests. Ife believes that awareness needs to be spread in a more universal way so folks can know programs like City Fruit exist.
As a Summer Associate Harvest VISTA for City Fruit, Ife has been committed to fulfilling their mission. With the team, Ife has been able to harvest thousands of pounds of fruit in a single week and donate it all to food banks, cideries, and organizations that can process buggier fruit in order to make apple sauces, baked goods, and other food items that are pleasant to consume. The team also gave away fruit through City Fruit’s recurring Fruit-For-All events! (For more on Fruit-For-Alls, read Ife’s fellow City Fruit Summer Associate, Kaitlyn’s blog post here.)
Through the last 10 weeks Ife has been able to successfully increase the amount of fruit harvested and collected from trees by teaming up with colleagues to ensure harvests are finished in a quicker time frame, build community and trust with tree owners by making phone calls discussing tree harvests, and ensure fruit be distributed amongst communities partners. As a result of their work, the harvest team has been able to feed hundreds of people nourishing fresh fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste.
When Ife is not on the clock, they try to take time to enjoy the more simple things in life. Ife enjoys reading, arts & crafts, spending time outdoors, going for scenic walks with their housemates, and vibing out to some good tunes. Cudjo is one of Ife’s furry feline companions; they also love spending time with him to make sure he is receiving his daily dose of affection. Ife loves to expand their world in any way they can. They are always open to new ideas, ways of thinking, living, and perspectives. Life is all about expansion to them.