Giving to the community and state where you live and work is an important value to those who make their living producing food from the land. Whether it’s funding education in farming communities, providing emergency food for hungry children or helping military veterans returning from conflict zones, Washington’s food producers continue to make Washington a better place for everyone.


The Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) is the charity of the tree fruit industry. Tree fruit growers, warehouses, retailers, industry suppliers, professional service suppliers and others connected with producing Washington apples, cherries and other tree fruit, care deeply that people living in their communities have access to good education.


WAEF scholarships are individually sponsored by industry members, employers and families.  They each carry a unique set of criteria allowing for a diverse group of recipients annually. WAEF scholarship recipients are provided with support year-round to graduate from college career-ready. 


Career tours, internships, job shadows and mentorship are offered to WAEF students by the tree fruit industry.

Community Grants

It doesn’t stop at scholarships. The foundation also presents grants to communities and schools that provide innovative educational assistance for farmworkers and their families. These efforts are targeted at adult learners in the form of ESL classes, adult basic education, parenting and citizenship preparation classes.


Grant money is used to purchase computers, classroom furniture and educational supplies. Having access to these classes allows community members to become more self-sufficient and successful.


New Career Directions

Vets on the Farm is a program of the Spokane Conservation District in partnership with WSU, Spokane Community College and others that places veterans with farmers or agri-business sponsors to learn about agriculturally based business opportunities. With the average age of Washington farmers at nearly 60 years, it makes sense to reach out to the thousands of transitioning military veterans as possible future food producers. Vets on the Farm links vets from their program with small-scale farmers, large scale cereal producers, beekeepers and ranchers in Washington. The program was recently given a few acres of farmland, donated by a local farm family, to develop a teaching farm. One exciting area of interest to vets is in the development of drone technology as it applies to agriculture.


Other individuals, like veteran Chris Brown at center above, are sharing their skills to make learning to farm a therapeutic option for vets recovering from military-related trauma. 

Photo by Will Huling


Farmers are passionate about growing food to feed people. As the cost of living rises, families in poverty often stop purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers across the state desire to work with local hunger relief projects. However making that desire into reality can be problematic when obstacles like transportation and food safety are taken into account. Yet stories abound of Washington farmers who succeed in donating crops to their local food banks, making fresh produce available for those in need. Some examples follow:

Farm to Food Pantry is a unique partnership between the Washington Department of Agriculture Food Assistance Program, Rotary First Harvest and Harvest Against Hunger that was developed to support local growers as well as bring fresh, nutritious produce into the hunger relief system.

Washington Potato Industry Provides

Every year Potato Growers “Team Up to Tackle Hunger” and donate thousands of pounds of potatoes to food banks, during college football season. 

Washington pea and lentil growers have made a huge impact on the health of hungry families and seniors last year by donating enough split peas and lentils to create 432,000 meals.

Gleaning Programs in Orchards

Food banks in Chelan and Douglas counties benefit from farmers and orchardists who participate in a gleaning program to give away their safe, but unmarketable fruits and vegetables to be distributed to people needing emergency food. In another instance,volunteers shown above, were part of 200 people who helped Fields of Grace collect a record 500,000 pounds of produce to donate last year– almost half of the more than 1 million pounds gleaned in its history.

Companies that provide supplies to farmers also look for opportunities to give back to their communities.  Last year Bayer Crop Science partnered with a local family farm to grow and deliver about 60 tons of potatoes to food banks in Pasco.

2nd Harvest Collects from Farmers

Second Harvest in Spokane receives donations of Washington-grown food  that they distribute to a network of food banks across eastern Washington.

The kitchen at Second Harvest trains everyone how to use the donated fresh fruits and vegetables recipients might find in boxes from food pantries in the 2nd Harvest network. They also demonstrate in videos how to prepare lentils and dried peas, from Washington growers.