Last week we were fortunate to welcome Dr. Barbara Eiswerth, who holds a Ph.D. in Arid Lands Resource Management and is the founder and director of the Iskashitaa Refugee Network. Iskashitaa is a grassroots organization based in Tucson, Arizona that partners with volunteers and local organizations to provide various supplemental services to refugees. Iskashitaa has a number of programs designed to empower refugees and unite them with staff and volunteers from the community. A primary component of these programs is gleaning, or harvesting unwanted produce from property owners and commercial farmers. Over Iskashitaa’s ten years of existence, gleaning efforts have grown from harvesting a few thousand pounds of fruit each year to over 100,000 pounds annually of fruit, nuts, and vegetables: a cumulative one million servings of local produce. Barbara mapped the trees in our community and named and identified each species. We got to sample locally grown fruits and vegetables and speak with participants of this powerful organization that makes a difference in so many lives.
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