Volunteer Spotlight:  Dick Yates – Our Gleaning Website Rock Star!

Dick yates - volunteer gleaning website designer 2019While creating the new gleaning program at Sierra Harvest, we researched other group’s websites and discovered similarities between several of them because it turns out, they were designed by the same incredible volunteer – Dick Yates, who created the original site for Salem Harvest, the largest gleaning organization in Salem, Oregon.

We reached out to Dick to create a website-database system to improve the efficiency and continue the awesome work of the Gold Country Gleaning Program which rescues food that may have gone to waste and distributes it to those in need.   He more than willingly jumped in designing the system to meet our needs exactly, training our volunteer Harvest Leaders and providing technical support anytime…and all as a volunteer!

How long have you been gleaning and why did you start gleaning in your area? 

I have been gleaning with Salem Harvest since 2010. Salem Harvest began when four neighbors noticed backyard fruit trees with fruit going to waste and they organized a neighborhood project. Once a website was set up, the project grew quickly and now rescues 400,000 pounds of food in the Salem area every year.

Why did you create the Gleanweb site and what’s your background? Salem Harvest’s success was directly related to the efficiencies provided by the website. We thought that other gleaning organizations could also benefit and so I began offering to set up sites for them. I had no background in it and was interested in learning website and database design.  I then learned on my own from reference books and deconstructing existing websites.

What is a memorable experience as a Salem Harvest gleaner?

Salem Harvest invites volunteers to write thank you notes at gleans for the crop owners. One little girl wrote “Thanks for the delicious cherries. Because of you I won’t be hungry today.”

How many Gleanweb sites have you created and how much produce has been recorded as gleaned after you helped a variety of communities?

There are currently about 12 Gleanweb installations. Since 2010 they have rescued about 8.5 million pounds of food altogether – 2 million pounds just in 2018!

What do you enjoy most about being the Gleanweb designer?

Working with people from places all over the country (from Hawaii to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts) and being able to incorporate what they are doing into the software so that other organizations might benefit.

We are incredibly grateful to Dick for his exceptional volunteer support allowing us to increase our efficiencies in recruitment of volunteers, gleaning hosts, and managing data which ultimately yields in nourishing more Nevada County residents.

Sierra Harvest’s Gold Country Gleaning Program organizes volunteers to harvest fresh, seasonal produce that would otherwise go to waste and donates it to Interfaith Food Ministry which distributes to over 8,000 residents in need.  In its first season in 2018, volunteers gleaned more than 10,800 pounds of produce and we are on track to surpass that amount this year with the aid of the new website! Click here to sign up to be a gleaning volunteer, or a gleaning host.  If you are interested in getting trained to be a volunteer Harvest Leader, email miriam@sierraharvest.org today!