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Refugee project plans its next harvest

Group seeks volunteer pickers and growers

The Refugees’ Harvest Project is getting ready for another urban harvest season, and it’s looking for refugees who are interested in volunteering and for growers in the Spokane-area who would like to donate extra fruit and vegetables.

Maria Ladd, public relations coordinator for Refugee Connections Spokane, which is the umbrella organization for the harvest project, said the program has its fruit and vegetable giveaways at East Central Community Center. But volunteers will go outside the neighborhood to gather donations.

“We have picked up donations in the Spokane Valley and other places outside of East Central,” Ladd said. “As long as we have the gas money to get there, we will go.”

The Refugees’ Harvest Program was started by two refugee women in 2011. They noticed apples and plums rotting on neighborhood trees and decided to try and harvest as much of the leftover fruit as possible – and to distribute it to low-income families.

Fruit tree owners and backyard gardeners with leftover fruits and vegetables contact the Refugees’ Harvest Project, which then sends volunteers out to harvest the produce.

This year, the project is funded by the Women Helping Women Fund. Volunteer drivers who can transport the fruit are needed.

Last year, the project’s 52 volunteers harvested and distributed 5,800 pounds of fruits and vegetables. This year’s goal is to get to 6,000 pounds.

“The informational meetings are for refugees who are interested in learning about the program,” Ladd said. “If you want to donate you don’t have to come, you can just call us.”

The distribution schedule will be released later.