Monday, July 14, 2014

Love and Apples

Although Mother's Day is out of season, I recently experienced a mother-daughter story of love that involved local food (of course) and love beyond words - this love was shared with me as well. The Sonoran desert produces itty bitty apples - out of season, if you think of fall as apple season. In June and July we are graced with what look like crab apples but what are really delightful - nothing like Safeway or Fry's.

Oh but I digress. I was at a recent party to celebrate women's success. When I shared my itty bitty tiny desert local apples, this is the story of love between mother and daughter that emerged with a loving, caring demonstration to all the women present. The thirty-something year-old daughter said, "My mom always shared her food art talents every day at nap time." Every day before nap, Farah* would fashion a drawing with her fingernail, imprinting a picture on an apple, and saying, "When you awake the picture will appear." 

In anticipation of her gifted art piece engraved in an apple, she would sleep in peace and then awake excited to see her personalized gift. Fast forward to today. Kind Farah engraved my name in Arabic on a tiny Sonoran apple or tufa (in Arabic). I was struck by the love, caring, and beauty of this sacred ritual. It reminded me of all the gifts my mother and grandmothers gifted to me, but especially of all the love they bestowed on me. I feel so fortunate to be able to share these moments of love with my global friends.​

-Barbara Eiswerth

Watch this video to learn how to say various fruits in Arabic!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Micah wrote this as his reflection for last week, and it does a good job of summing up his time here this summer. We'll miss you!

Last Sunday feels like tomorrow, this week went by so fast.
It's been a great first week with Tyler, Iskashitaa's new summer intern, who's incredibly hard-working and inquisitive.  Among other things Tyler helped with—like cleaning the heck out of the kitchen!—he and I visited the Iskashitaa plots at the U of A Unity Garden yesterday, and Tuesday he helped me unload all 75-or-so blocks of coconut coir to a temporary spot near the compost (which was waaaaaay faster than when I loaded them by myself).

It was a busy, exhausting week, but full of many tiny accomplishments.  With Cadie McCarthy and Barbara's help, we drafted interview questions to gather narrative data from refugees about how Iskashitaa has impacted their food security.  I scheduled interviews with a few refugees to get the project started.

Yesterday was also my very last harvest with Iskashitaa (at least for a little while).  But in the helter-skelter haywire norm of harvests, I hardly had a breath to notice.  In the odd quiet of what was probably my last redistribution run, though, I did.

Most refugees were at work midday, when I had time to drive Sevilles and grapefruit around in the White Whale van.  At Navajo, I only ran into Sabir (who's harvested tomatoes with Iskashitaa) and his friend, Adam; I ran through every other name I knew, but no one was there.  Oasis was even more deserted: Hya Hya—our trusty liason to gather folks—was away, and so were all the others I knew.  I met Fatoumah from Somalia, and Satya (her daughter?), to whom I gave a harvesting flyer and convinced to try cooking with Sevilles.

I visited Faeza's home, too, where her husband Jibril greeted me to gladly take heaps of Sevilles. We shared some laughs while feeding the naranjah into bags, and carried it all to their door.  I took my time closing up the van to head off, and was surprised to see Dahlia, their daughter, when I came back around the van.  She'd been waiting patiently in the sun for me to finish, holding two different cans of soda: "You can take one or both, but it's a very hot day and we're very grateful to you."

The little things are humongo.

Micah Hadley
Iskashitaa Harvesting Intern

As my time interning with Iskashitaa comes to an end (for now), I look back and reflect on all that I have learned and am in awe of the growth and knowledge I have gained during my short time here. I can look back at my life up to this two month journey and summarize it in a short little phrase; small town mentality. I have always had large dreams of going out, exploring the world, and seeing it for all its wonder but have hardly left my small town in Northern California to do such a thing. To some, Tucson, Arizona, might not be the most diverse culture of the world, but through Iskashitaa I can say it truly is. Through a Food For Thought Dinner, harvesting, and working in the office I have been introduced to many different types of people from all over the world.
I have met numerous refugees from all over the world with stories that are both simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring all in one. I have seen many different ways to greet and interact with people and I have learned to open my heart and eyes to the many different things that are happening all around the world and within my own country. Not only has my knowledge in cultural awareness expanded far beyond anything I have learned studying cross-cultural communication, but my knowledge in healthy eating and taking care of oneself has expanded as well.​
I have eaten things I have never heard of before and I have eaten them with an open mind. I have eaten lamb for the first time and loved every little bite; I've eaten strange fruits like loquats and saguaro cactus fruit - both of which I will gladly eat again. Through working with Iskashitaa I have learned that in Tucson, one in four children are “food insecure”. That means that one in four children are concerned about where they are going to get their next meal, what that meal will consist of, and/or whether or not it will be sufficient for them. For the past three years Iskashitaa has harvested an average of 100,000 pounds of produce that otherwise might have gone to waste. But Tucson is not alone in the plight of hungry children. In my home county alone one out of three children are food insecure and I could not even began to calculate the amount of food waste. Our orchards alone drop fruit by the dozens and we leave fruit to rot in our backyards.
Through working with Iskashitaa for the short two months I have been here I have been inspired to learn more about people in my own community as well as the eating habits we all have. So much good food goes to waste annually because people have no means to distribute it, but yet so many children and families could use it.  Being a part of Iskashitaa has really opened my eyes to this issue and has further pushed me to look into my own community and how I can be a part of something as important as eradicating food waste.
I am truly going to miss working here with everyone in the office and the Iskashitaa community. I have had so much fun learning and growing, but still I cannot wait to be able to get home and start making a change in my own backyard. I have felt at home here in Tucson, thanks to the community and Iskashitaa, and I can’t wait to come back and once more be a part of something so important. So for now I say, “See you soon and keep gleaning!”
~Elizabeth Haase Office Intern