Backyard Bounty will help feed those in need throughout Western Massachusetts by gathering and distributing ripe, fresh fruit that, in most instances, would otherwise not be harvested, and therefore wasted. Backyard Bounty will obtain the participation of homeowners who grow fruit trees on their properties in Southern Berkshire County, and recruit volunteer pickers (gleaners) to harvest the fruit. Backyard Bounty will organize and oversee all gleanings and then transport the gathered fruit to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and to a limited number of local food distribution organizations in Southern Berkshire County.
During 2016, Backyard Bounty successfully obtained the participation of a significant number of homeowners with fruit trees, and volunteer pickers. We were ready to go! Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not cooperate. Unseasonably warm weather in late winter and early spring prompted the fruit trees to bud prematurely. Then, an unexpected hard freeze in early April killed most of the buds (see this Berkshire Eagle article for more information). We had no choice but to take the necessary step to defer all fruit picking activity until 2017.
Backyard Bounty Expansion
As a supplement to the original concept, Backyard Bounty is developing a program to collect fresh eggs from South County residents who keep chickens and have more eggs than their families can use. We would like to gather those precious “extra” eggs and deliver them to those in need through local food pantries. Our goal is to find those who would be willing to donate some eggs to this worthy cause – even just a few – would be appreciated. Please let us know if you would like to do so, or if you know someone who could help, by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Backyard Bounty of the Berkshires was formed in late 2015 by Jay Weintraub and Mark Lefenfeld, as a response to the waste created by large amounts of fresh fruit that is left unpicked from trees of local homeowners and spoiled after falling to the ground. Recognizing the sometimes hidden but significant hunger problem throughout Berkshire County, Jay and Mark conceived of a community-based effort to gather the fruit and bring it to those in need.
Backyard Bounty is affiliated with The Nutrition Center, and is a proud recipient of a grant from the Green Pastures Fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.
Jay Weintraub retired in 2012 after a 30-year career on Wall Street as a financial analyst. He and his wife built a vacation home in Alford, MA, and currently reside there. He has taken a strong interest in local community affairs, having instituted a popular website, Alford-Assist, in which residents can post requests for help from neighbors. He has also been active in the campaign to bring high-speed Internet to Alford, currently underway. Jay served on the ad hoc Alford Broadband Committee for two years and then was elected to the Board of the Alford Municipal Lighting Plant, which is planning and overseeing the installation of a high-speed network in the town.
Mark Lefenfeld earned law and business degrees, and was a senior executive at a San Francisco-based specialty investment banking organization for 20 years. He then established his own consulting practice, which he ran for ten years. Following his retirement in 2004, Mark and his wife moved to Great Barrington where he subsequently sat on the Great Barrington Finance Committee for six years. He is also the immediate past president of Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, a significantly sized congregation in Great Barrington.