TUCSON, ARIZ., January 7, 2023 -- National Civilian Community Corps, or AmeriCorps NCCC is a US program that engages 18- to 26-year-olds in team-based national and community service. Tucson will receive an NCCC team called FIRE 3 on January 8th, 2023. They will be housed and hosted by Iskashitaa Refugee Network (IRN) and St. Paul's United Methodist Church, with assistance from Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace, which manages Mission Garden.

NCCC FIRE 3 team will work 3 days a week with Iskashitaa harvesting citrus to prevent rampant wasted food from Tucson bountiful backyards. They’ll also help by reconstructing the new garden, orchard, and art space next to the new Iskashitaa office at St. Mark's Presbyterian Church. Members will participate in the Refugee Garden Art Program to redistribute weekly fresh produce, meeting and learning from our global friends. FIRE 3 team will serve Mission Garden 2 days a week working on special projects. These consist of restoring the traditional grain threshing ground, caring for the fruit tree orchard, moving soil for earthworks, planting and weeding and other infrastructure improvements. The team's 6-week stint will culminate at an educational Citrus Celebration at Mission Garden on February 18th, which is open to the public.

Iskashitaa Refugee Network: Iskashitaa Refugee Network (IRN)---a 501(c)3 non-profit organization since 2003, is an intergenerational network of volunteers and UN refugees who locate, harvest, and re-distribute local produce which would otherwise go to waste. IRN directs additional local food programs including food preservation classes, edible tree tours, weekly garden art program to integrate UN refugees into the community. We work year-round to educate the public about global and local Refugee Resettlement, strengthen the local food system, reduce wasted food, and to increase food security for many underserved groups. We’ve worked with 44 different ethnic groups over our 20-year history from Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace: Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace—a 501(c)3 non-profit organization—manages Mission Garden and advocates for finishing the entire Tucson Origins Heritage Park. Mission Garden is a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit trees, traditional local heirloom crops and edible native plants. Mission Garden is located at the foot of Sentinel Peak, at the site of the Native American village of S-cuk Son (pronounced Chuk Shon), a place sacred to the Tohono O’odham. Current garden plots include: Native Plants, Early Agriculture, Hohokam, O’odham Before European Contact, O’odham After European Contact, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese, Yoeme, Africa in the Americas, Medicinal, and Youth. Garden plots in development include Territorial, Statehood and Tomorrow’s gardens. 

AmeriCorps NCCC: More information about the NCCC program is available from Nicole Cozzi, NCozzi@cns.gov, and at https://americorps.gov/serve/americorps/americorps-nccc