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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

The Urban Farmers

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Food, Food Banks & Pantries, Neighborhood & Block Associations, Pollution Abatement & Control

Mission: Our goal is to build a community-based, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable model of hunger relief. We harvest excess backyard fruit for donation to the needy. We believe no one should suffer from lack of food. We also believe the poor and the hungry in your community are as important as the ones in our community. We have developed tools, methods, and procedures that are portable.We can help you start a local gleaning chapter quickly and economically.

Results: For 2015, over 1,100 volunteers helped harvest 147,000 pounds of fresh fruit at an operating cost of 12 cents per pound. In other words, instead of a can of unhealthy food that costs $1.50, we deliver 12.5 pounds of fresh fruit.

Target demographics: The people and the planet

Direct beneficiaries per year: Over 1,000 fruit donors and 50 hunger relief agencies

Geographic areas served: Solan, Contra Costa and Alameda Counties in California.

Programs: Harvesting excess backyard fruit for donation the needy.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My mom and I recently went out on a harvest with Urban Farmers. I didn't realize how much fun it would be. We picked boxes and boxes of apples. It is really great to know that someone that may have had to go without food will now have food, in part, due to our efforts. The coordinators at Urban Farmers were great. I will be back out soon to pick again! Highly recommend. Nate, age 14.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first came to the know about Urban Farmers through my Food Politics class taught at Saint Mary's College of California. I had no idea what this organization did, but I soon learned. Urban Farmers is a non-profit organization that runs all on volunteer work. Many of the people who work there do it from the goodness of their heart. It has definitely taught me to appreciate my food and how one fruit tree can supply copious amounts of food for those that need it. I had never thought about how important the idea is of "picking fruit to help others who need it", but through countless harvesting, and Urban Farmers, I have come to a knew understanding of why it is needed.
When I harvest, I get a sense community. People from all over come to help harvest and that makes me smile. We are able to come together to get the job done. I feel that when we come together to help feed other people, it's very accomplishing to know that every little thing can help change the world. It may no be a big impact, but harvesting those fruits will help someone in need. At times its a lot of work and its tiring, but seeing how we all come together and help one another, now thats teamwork. Thats a community coming together. Lastly I hope that others will want to feel this sense of community and help the Urban Farmers, it could be a harvest, or reading this review. Any little thing that one can do, can always help those in need of food.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Urban Farmers have shaped my perspective on food in such amazing ways. Through Saint Mary's college, I was connected with this great Non Profit organization to help combat hunger one tree at a time, one fruit at a time. While I was putting in time at the harvest, I was also learning about the food system and the lack of healthy available food around the world, and so my experience has been one that I will always remember. Throughout my life, I have always taken food for granted until now.

When I work with the Urban Farmers, I feel Joy. Not only do I enjoy harvesting different kinds of fruit, I enjoy the feeling of knowing that someone is going to get fed with the food we gather. The joy comes from seeing this happen naturally from the ground too with minimal effort. It puts a perspective on what we can actually accomplish together in the fight to end hunger. I feel tired from doing the work as well, because it is no easy work, and so you can appreciate what people actually do to make a living picking fruits and vegetables. Overall, an amazing organization with amazing motives.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with The Urban Farmers has been a great one thus far. I've only attended two of the harvests, but each one has given me such appreciation for what I have, as well as what our work will provide others. In my Food Politics course at Saint Mary's, we have learned about issues such as the lack of availability of food in poor, urban areas. Along with this, we have learned about the negative and toxic foods that actually are readily available to people in poor neighborhoods. I'm glad that the class has introduced us to The Urban Farmers as a way to give back to people who do not have fresh and healthy food available to them.

To put it in perspective, the first harvest I attended, we picked around 300 pounds of apples. During the second harvest, we picked over 1,000 pounds! The work was not easy, and it was extremely tiring, but after tallying all the crates of apples, it was extremely gratifying and accomplishing. The amount of people that 1,300+ pounds of apples can feed just put into perspective the amount of work that we did. I'm also glad that organizations such as this exist. Siamack and the rest of the people who make up The Urban Farmers work so hard to make sure that everyone who needs fresh food can have access to it. And as we have said in the classroom, food is a universal human right, and everyone should have a right to it. The Urban Farmers does just this.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was first introduced to Urban Farmers through a Food Politics class at Saint Mary's College - and the experiences that I have experienced volunteering with this organization have been astronomical. Not only does Urban Farmers create a community setting within people in your neighborhood or peers, but volunteering has also taught me about gardening, composting, and larger picture facts regarding how we receive the food on our table. By removing unwanted fruit from backyards, we not only help home-owners but also help the hungry by giving them fresh fruit and vegetables. This organization prevents waste and does amazing things for the community.

I will continue to volunteer with Urban Farmers after my course at the college is over, and I recommend others to join this organization as well. UF has taught me so many valuable lessons, and there is more to come with each harvest!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My introduction to the Urban Farmers came through my Food Politics course at Saint Mary's College. Siamack spoke to our class in a way only he could--emphasizing a personal relationship with food, sustainable farming practices, and our responsibility to serve others. Working with the Urban Farmers over the past couple months has restored my faith in people to voluntarily help others in their community who may not have access to the same privileges they do. I have experienced such a strong and unparalleled sense of community in this organization, led by Siamack's example.

Feeding the food insecure is too often associated with donating canned and processed foods. After further contemplation, however, it is likely we would all agree that is not our first choice of a meal. If we had it our way, most of us would want a fresh and healthy meal three times a day (I know I would). The Urban Farmers helps extend that privilege to those who would not otherwise be able to afford it. By working with members of the community in their gardens, the fresh food harvested is donated to local centers like White Pony Express where low-income consumers can access fresh, healthy produce. The Urban Farmers embodies the Golden Rule of how we must treat others: with dignity, and respect.

4 Emily156

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first worked with Urban Farmers three years ago during my first year in college at Saint Mary's College of CA. It was an amazing experience, and Siamack has a huge heart and passion for food security that is wonderfully contagious. And yet, somehow, it took me three years to come back to this fantastic organization and volunteer for my community engagement course. I sure regret not doing it for the last three years.

If I had to use one word to sum up my experience with Urban Farmers it would be enlightening. I have learned so much through this organization about food insecurity and how the American population waste's 40% of their food every year, while at least 800,000 people go to sleep hungry every night. This sort of dissonance in the country of excess has come to the forefront of my knowledge while working at Urban Farmers.

The volunteers at this organization are absolutely wonderful, and I am so proud to get to work alongside them at each harvest I have attended. Each of the leaders I have had the pleasure of working with have enriched my education of food security and the beauty of growing food, and I urge everyone possible to take the opportunity to work with this fantastic organization.

Thank you, Urban Farmers, for all the work you do!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have thoroughly enjoyed every harvest that I have worked at with the Urban Farmers, and I have gained valuable insight from each event. One of the most important things I have learned is that there really is a difference between food grown organically and in your own backyard versus buying food at the grocery store. The apples at a grocery store are so bland and flavorless in comparison to the apples I have tasted during the harvests.

Another important thing I have learned from working with the Urban Farmers is the importance of being in a community. I am a college student and spend a lot of time by myself studying. The Urban Farmers allows me to connect with my community in a way that benefits other people, and brings me joy and gratitude because I get to connect to other human beings.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found this organization a few years ago and am hooked! It gives us the ability to help the home-owner by removing unwanted fruit from their backyards and then help the hungry by giving them fresh fruit and veggies. I hate to see anything go to waste and this organization does so much good for the community. I love that the produce stays local and the system is set up so that fresh food gets to the needy within 24 hours!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Urban Farmers is an organization that deeply values community engagement. Siamack and the entire group of dedicated volunteers have not only taught me life lessons, such as collective action, but they have sparked a newfound curiosity-- like where our food comes from. Most of us are more than just disconnected to the food we eat. The larger message of a broken food system, or issues around food politics, often entail environmental injustice as well. The Urban Farmers prioritize healthy, eco-friendly practices to truly value each volunteer’s part in the harvest production.

Additionally, the service work and philosophy as a non profit has made multi-beneficiary strides toward sustainability. The Urban Farmers educate volunteers while displaying the direct impact volunteers have on the community. During one particular harvest I was surprised to see one tree that had put out a ton of apples but was not being watered. Even though California is in a drought, we still managed to feed 200 people from one tree, amazing! Volunteering with The Urban Farmers is a fun way to take a break from the hectic-ness of life to simply pick fruit that will then find its way to a hungry person’s plate. It was time well spent learning a thing or two and sampling some fruit!

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started working with Urban Farmers this year and it has been such a wonderful experience because I am able to help out the community and I have obtained new skills to help me in life.

Siamack is such a wonderful influence because he has shown me what the combination of hard work and thoughtfulness can do to help out a community. As a college student, I do not have much time, but when I work with Urban farmers I feel like I am a bigger part of a community which a is making a big impact on others lives. I have learned so much about how to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly from Siamack and this knowledge will continue to help me for the rest of my life.

Urban farmer is an important program within the community because it connects people and food together through volunteer work. Not only is the harvesting fun but you are able to connect with new people and create new experiences!

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to make a difference in the community or to anyone who wants to know more about how to be more food and environmentally friendly.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with this organization since their first year. They started in Lafayette and have now expanded to serve a lot of Contra Costa County, with new sub-groups in Solono & Alameda County. This is due to the vision of one man’s family and his passion for sustainable food practices. I have learned a lot about sustainable food practices, basics of fruit tree pruning and food waste issues. Along the way I have worked with wonderful people, made new friends, helped my community and gotten good exercise. This is a great organization, working at a grassroots level that is really helping their communities. Everyone benefits in some way from the work they do. From the home owner that has way more fruit than they can use, the volunteer (some have never picked and eaten a fresh piece of fruit in their life), the community organizations that are trying to help feed folks in need, to the person that received the fruit to eat. My experiences with The Urban Farmers have been life changing and incredibly rewarding. This organization is deserving of your support.

6 Spencer6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with Urban Farmers this year, and I can honestly say that it has changed my worldview in regards to how to help feed people who are food insecure.

The work that Urban Farmers does is incredibly important because it changes how you help hungry people and creates a sense of community. The process of harvesting fresh fruit instead of donating cans of processed food provides a greater impact to food insecure people on the basis of nourishment. Harvesting also provides both sides of the donation cycle an insight into sustainable agriculture and how it can impact and help all people. While working in the yards of generous patrons who have donated their food producing trees you feel connected to not only your other harvesters but also the homeowner and the neighbors you interact with.

You can help create a sense of community within a neighborhood and also have a direct impact on helping the less fortunate eat healthy and nutritious food. Urban Farmer's ability to give fresh fruit and produce directly to the most impoverished leaves you with a feeling of joy and satisfaction that you are doing your part to help.


5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working/playing with this organization since the beginning. Why do I keep coming back...because it is so "hands on" and dynamic. The goal is on a constant effort to streamline operations in order to make efficient and economic use of resources. I feel like they understand that everyone's time is valuable and I always walk away feeling satisfied that I have tangibly contributed to a solution of the problem of food waste.
Quite simply The Urban Farmers supply the missing link between the people with too much fresh fruit, literally falling from their trees, and the people that provide it to those that do not have access to it.
Backyard abundance + The Urban Farmers = full crates of fresh fruit directly off the tree and in food distribution centers within hours.
Also...free samples are mandatory for educating the pickers and quality control.

6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with The Urban Farmers since 2009. It is truly one of the most amazing organizations I have ever volunteered with.

The Urban Farmers is noteworthy for it's ability to touch several different problems simultaneously. The Urban Farmers addresses hunger in the Bay Area in a way which promotes sustainable agriculture. It also creates community and educates young people about where food comes from. It also helps bring healthy, fresh fruit to communities who are often served unhealthy, processed, sugar-laden food.

I love how much attention The Urban Farmers pays to cost effectiveness. They are not interested in doing things which are not efficient.

The best part of The Urban Farmers is the deep sense of connection it brings. Being outside in the sunshine, picking fruit with other new and interesting people makes you feel close to the land and your neighbors. Knowing that the food you are harvesting will go directly to feed the poor makes you feel connected most of all.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We found our way to The Urban Farmers because my spectrum-y, Asperger’s-y son needed to do 30 hours of volunteer work to graduate from high school. The volunteer backyard harvest fruit work didn’t have a training requirement and the TUF calendar allowed us to pick and chose from a variety of scheduled harvest days without committing to a weekly “every Tuesday” framework. He could also volunteer to hunt for fruit trees independently in our community so those trees could be registered for later harvesting. The independent work made him learn to use a copier, actually ask a librarian about posting flyers (a big deal if you don’t talk to people!), and walk the neighborhood looking for fruit trees to pass out flyers. He even worked at a special fruit tree pruning event sponsored by The Urban Farmers.

This is a worthwhile, “scalable” volunteer organization with caring people at the helm. It's meaningful yet fun work, appropriate for all ages—particularly families— so I’d recommend this to anyone.