Early in May Iskashitaa Refugee Network director Barbara Eiswerth received notice from Murat Kacira the U of A's Controlled Environment Agriculture Center that the lettuce from two full greenhouses would be sent to the composting facility within two days unless Iskashitaa could harvest it first.
The Refugee Network had never harvested lettuce before, let alone on two days notice! It was a mad scramble to recruit a crew of volunteers, procure vehicles, and muster some mismatched crates, buckets and coolers at the last minute, not to mention the tremendous challenge of finding people and organizations to take the gorgeous heads of lettuce before they wilted in the hot sun.
Upon arrival at the Iskashitaa headquarters it soon dawned on the sleepy volunteers that they would have to fine-tune their fast-paced cooperative improvisation and decision-making skills ASAP! What was the best way to harvest lettuce? Where would it go once picked? There were not enough coolers, or other suitable containers on hand to hold it all. How many trips would it take to transport the delicate greens in the two small pickup trucks available? How would we organize the distribution throughout the city immediately after the harvest? It was truly harrowing, and yet, amazingly, many families in need were ultimately able to enjoy deliciously fresh lettuce that day!
Iskashitaa is extremely grateful to all the people and organizations that afford the Network the possibility of providing people in need with food that would otherwise go to waste. And at the same time, we would like to ask all these generous providers to kindly give us as much advance warning as possible, so that we can actually get the most food to people who need it, without suffering from a heart attack in the process!
Dena Ellen Cowan
Editor Iskashitaa Newsletter