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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Nonprofits, refugees share in fruit of labors


Courtesy of Emily Sylvia

Members of Iskashitaa, a community organization, work to harvest fruit from trees. The produce the students collect will go to the UA Campus Pantry, which distributes nutritious food to students in need.

Community organizations Iskashitaa, UA Community Garden and UA Campus Pantry have teamed up to put on an event this Saturday that will give the Tucson community members a new outlook on the fresh produce they eat.

Iskashitaa pairs refugees with community volunteers to share growing techniques from their home countries in order to grow and provide fresh produce for those in Tucson who are in need of better nutrition.

Emily Sylvia, an international development senior, said she was inspired to get involved and create such an event because she wants to reduce food waste in Tucson and give back to the community.

Iskashitaa has found many refugees with different backgrounds in and experiences harvesting who are willing to participate in the event, according to Sylvia. One refugee participating in the event is not bringing the actual herbs, but is bringing his knowledge of growing techniques from Iraq, she added.

There has never been a gardening plot on the UA campus before, according to Sylvia, and the gardening will give community members a chance to connect with one another.

“It is important for members of our community to get involved, because not only will they get to reconnect with the herbs and the greater community, but they will get the opportunity to meet more of the community that we live in,” Sylvia said. “Tucson is one of the largest places that refugees reside [in], and [the refugees] are excited to share their stories about their lives in their countries in comparison to their lives now in America.”

Sylvia said the event is concerned with justice, because Iskashitaa is helping to redistribute good nutrition to low-income households through fresh produce.

Taylor Sanders, a sustainable plant systems sophomore and manager of the UA Community Garden is providing Iskashitaa with three full plots for free to allow them to grow whatever they’d like with the refugees and volunteers.

Sanders said she looks forward to seeing the excited faces of those in the community when they get fresh produce, rather than the canned foods they usually receive.

“It’s really cool to see these three organizations caring about the same issue in our community because we are all so diverse, but we all care about our community and eliminating food waste in Tucson,” Sanders said. “I hope that this event is the beginning of a long-term partnership.”

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