Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Heather's Corner: Harvest and Donate Your Fruit

Did you know that at one time Oro Valley had commercial orange groves? They were located on Linda Vista Road. They were huge. Today, the only oranges are in our backyards? We don’t sell this fruit. Some of us don’t even eat it. Many of us simply throw it away.

Wait! There may be a better answer to what to do with that unwanted fruit!  Give it away!

Imagine something as simple as allowing volunteers to pick unwanted fruit off of your backyard fruit trees, and in doing so helping refugees from war-torn countries. It is possible, it is happening, and moreover, you can be a part of it. This is "working cooperatively together" for the greater good, or as the non-profit organization is called, Iskashitaa.

Please Don' t Throw Me Away!
Upon returning to Tucson from Malawi villages while working on her dissertation, Dr. Barbara Eiswerth noticed rotting and fallen fruit on the ground around Tucson.

Eiswerth combined her experience in Africa and her educational background in environmental science and land management to launch "a project through the Tucson Youth Work Enhancement program to educate local high school teens about food resources. Together, they mapped 162 homes with 296 fruit-producing trees. Unwanted fruit harvested from these trees was then distributed to local farmers’ markets and soup kitchens." (Source)

Dr. Barbara Eiswerth
In 2003, Eiswerth recruited refugee students to help father and harvest the fruit and received a grant from the United Way of America to begin regular harvesting with and for refugees.

Iskashitaa offers many programs; but, thhe most prevailing program remains gleaning, or harvesting unwanted produce from property owners and local farmers. Currently the program has gone from a few thousand pounds of food a year to an impressive 100,000 pounds of unwanted food each year of fruits, nuts, and vegetables for refugees and "food insecure" residents of Tucson. That is over one million servings of food thus far.

Please think about this organization as the hundreds of citrus trees begin to ripen in Oro Valley these next few months. What you can't eat yourselves or give away, you can offer in support of this organization.

Read more about their harvesting program.  See how you can help.

(Learn more)
Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

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