The gleaning program has grown fast as the community recognizes what Kitsap Harvest does and the impacts it is able to make. We’ve only scratched the surface for pounds donated, and accessing those in need.
Much of the information referring to marketing and visibility are covered in both volunteer and donor relations through the use of Farmers Markets and Social media. The biggest suggestion would be to be visible in the community and to get the word out regarding who, what, where, and why we are doing this program.
Attending community events and meetings regularly such as the Kitsap Fruit Club meetings, Kitsap Food Co-op, Kitsap Community Agricultural Alliance, and the Farmer’s Market meetings allowed Kitsap Harvest to be recognized in the agricultural community. One of the greatest gleaning assets was formed through a connection at the Peninsula Fruit Club. As a fruit tree enthusiast, and former teacher he was a perfect fit to be a glean volunteer lead. His insight about types of produce, proper harvesting techniques, and information on the health of fruit trees was invaluable. He also volunteered many hours towards site checks before group gleans.
One of our best marketing tools, a door hanger, was borrowed from Clallam County’s gleaning program. (Please feel free to contact us if you would like to borrow the editable version.) We shared our door hangers primarily at Farmer’s markets and asked people to help keep an eye out for excessive fruit in their neighborhoods, walks, and commutes. Even if people hadn’t seen trees full of fruit, after our conversation they would revisit our booth to exclaim that they had found a location in need. Kitsap Harvest used this door hanger to educate neighbors and friends about opportunities to donate their additional produce. This tool generated great conversation not only at the Farmers Market, but between neighbors as the idea of gleaning grew. We were surprised at how many gleaning opportunities were received where people mentioned that their neighbor gave them our information.
We wanted to give folks the opportunity to be proud and fond of a memory they created and created a keepsake button that also doubled to identify volunteers at the gleaning site. We always gave them the option to return the button so that it wouldn’t become trash, but most folks opted to keep theirs. For the purpose of marketing, the idea is people would have it on their coat or bookbag, and this increased chances of talking about the time they did a good thing for a good cause.
Our digital presence also added to our community engagement as a tool to talk about our work through engagement and built partnerships. Kitsap Harvest’s Facebook Engagement has 371 followers and works diligently to keep the information up-to-date and relevant on gleaning and sustainability. We have been able to grow our base by creating original posts that ask an easy question people can reply to, without having to make any commitments. By creating a conversation thread the post gains relevance and shows up in more people’s feed from commenting on it. These posts are great for sharing with other like-minded groups and building community around our name and what we do.
A familiar face and a few catchy phrases will go far. Here are some examples: Take every opportunity to reach out to your audience. This can be meetings, community groups, or farmer’s markets. It’s an endless list—be creative!
- Gleaning, much more fun than cleaning… But kinda like cleaning because we clean all the apples from the tree.
- It’s like being a gardener without all the work, but all the reward.
- I am not selling anything. This is a win, win, win! You can help me, help you. Do you want free food? Do you want to help your community but don’t have time? Do you live where you can’t garden? Can you tell me if you’ve seen any fruit trees? AND then always put something in their hand.
- “You can volunteer even if it is once. We have gleaning events in the morning, evening, weekends, and weekdays. There will be one that will fit your schedule. Make it a family day, and take home some food.”
Newspapers may be going out of style but they aren’t gone yet. Buy an ad, write an editorial, or score an interview. Pictures help!
Act the lifestyle. Find an aspect of the program that appeals to you and incorporate it into your lifestyle; make the same commitment that you’re asking of others.
This is the chance to make the issues known. Food security and environmental impact are popular subjects and individuals want to help. Be opportunistic about your approach and read your audience. Even if no one acts on it that day, they may call you later.