Backyard harvest

Backyard Harvest

Reducing hunger, one row at a time.

Backyard Harvest

Since 2010, the University of Idaho’s Office of Community Partnerships has funded a summer intern to work with Backyard Harvest during the summer and fall growing season. Backyard Harvest is a Moscow-based organization, created during a "gardening accident" when Amy Grey, a book designer and mom in Moscow, Idaho, inadvertently grew two-hundred extra heads of lettuce in 2006. Amy’s two small boys helped her plant their family’s first garden, happily playing in the mud and spreading hundreds of lettuce seeds. Soon, lettuce began to grow, and grow... everywhere. And while some may have let the lettuce go to waste or moved it right to the compost pile, Amy decided to take a trip to the local food bank. From this fortunate gardening accident grew a passion for bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the region’s most vulnerable populations.

Since 2006, Backyard Harvest has created several programs to gather and distribute fresh produce. Starting with that first lettuce crop, over 135,000 lbs of fresh vegetables and fruit have made their way to children, families and elderly people. Distribution happens via food banks, CSA shares (Community Supported Agriculture), and the mobile Harvest Share Stand, which has delivered produce to food banks in rural Idaho communities such as Bovill, Troy, Kendrick and Orofino. In addition, volunteers and interns provided on-site nutritional education about preparing low-cost, nutritional meals and information about gardening, gleaning, identifying and inventorying local food resources.

University of Idaho interns have contributed greatly to Backyard Harvest’s productivity and have benefited immensely from their time cultivating crops and relationships with the region’s underserved population.     

Marci Miller served as our summer and fall 2010 intern. She helped develop and expand the geographical reach of the Harvest Share Stand and worked with Kenzie Femriete, UI Extension Nutrition specialist, to provide nutritional education information for participants. In 2011, Marci earnd a B.S. in Conservation Social Science and a certificate in Sustainable Small Acreage Farming & Ranching from the University of Idaho. Marci and her partner Greg Freistadt now operate Deep Roots Farm (http://www.deep-roots-farm.com/) in the Moscow area and sell fresh produce and herbs at Moscow Farmer’s Market as well as CSA shares.

Keri Cederquist served as our summer 2011 intern. She managed the Harvest Share Stand, coordinated the Shop the Market program, which allows people to use SNAP benefits to purchase produce at the Moscow Farmer’s Market (which also provides revenue for local growers) and helped harvest reduced-price farmshares for area families in need.

Chris Cummings, served as our summer 2012 intern and recently completed his M.S. in Bioregional Planning and Community Design. Chris coordinated the Community Orchard program, which  registers residential fruit trees, berry patches and grape vines in the region. Since its inception, staff and volunteers have gleaned over 50,000 lbs of cherries, apricots, plums, apples and pears for area food pantries and meal programs.

“My University of Idaho internship with Backyard Harvest was a great experience… My major activities included coordinating the picking of donated fruit from area trees, leading volunteers, interacting with donors, and transporting food to area food banks and other programs.  I appreciate that I was able to gain knowledge about the local food inventory and work with individuals and organizations that bring healthy, local food to those in need.  I have made many great connections in the community and gained valuable experience.”—Chris Cummings, summer 2012

We thank Backyard Harvest staff and board of directors for providing this extraordinary opportunity for students to help address emergency food needs of people struggling to make ends meet. At the same time, our interns work with a variety of people, organizations and in situations that build their own skills and ability to truly make a difference, one row at a time.

 For more information about opportunities to get involved with Backyard Harvest, contact Debbie Gray, Community Engagement Coordinator, dgray@uidaho.edu or 208-885-4017. To learn more about Backyard Harvest, visit their website: http://www.backyardharvest.org/.