International Rescue Committee (IRC)

New Roots in America

refugees sell produce grown by fellow refugees at a farmers' market in San Diego
Photo: Peter Biro/IRC

The International Rescue Committee’s New Roots program helps recently resettled refugees to become self-sufficient and contribute to their new home in the United States through community gardening, nutrition education and small-business farming. With training, tools and land provided by the IRC, refugees are sharing their agricultural skills and producing affordable, locally grown vegetables and fruit for their families and their neighbors. Spanning 22 U.S. cities, New Roots is an essential part of the IRC’s broader efforts in over 40 countries to help communities build a more secure and sustainable future.

The Latest

New Roots

  • New Roots, the IRC’s nationwide gardening, micro-enterprise
  • Uzakboy Djuraev, 42, a refugee from Uzbekistan, works his plot at a New Roots
  • Kyi Hser, 27, a Burmese refugee, feeds calves at Threemile Canyon Farms
  • The IRC provides refugees like Puspa Lal Regmi with agricultural training
  • Bossn Gumaa, a refugee from Sudan, feels at home working at a goat farm
  • New Roots helps newly-arrived refugees
  • Bhagiratha Bhattarai, a Bhutanese refugee who arrived in Salt Lake City a year a
  • Many refugees were farmers in their native countries, says Anchi Mei
  • Until recently, the San Diego New Roots community farm was a vacant lot
  • Refugees sell produce grown by fellow refugees at a farmers' market
  • In the Pauma valley near San Diego, a group of Somali Bantu women meet
  • Shukri Egal, 17, from Somalia, is participating in an IRC after-school program
  • The New York City New Roots program is located in the South Bronx

When refugees arrive in the United States, they have left everything familiar behind. The IRC's New Roots program brings refugees together to share experiences and feel a connection to their new home through community gardening and nutrition and micro-enterprise programs.

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How We Help

The IRC is helping refugees set down new roots in the U.S. by:

  • Supporting home and community gardens
  • Providing greater access to fresh and healthy foods
  • Reconnecting them with familiar agricultural traditions
  • Giving them a chance to  share the tastes of home with their new neighbors
  • Creating opportunities to earn income by selling their produce
  • Supporting small farms and other refugee-owned businesses
  • Developing job opportunities in agriculture and other industries
September 25, 2015 | Blog
As they set down new roots in America, refugee farmers are feeding the local economy and filling a gap in neighborhoods with few or no places to purchase fresh produce.

Building Healthy Communities

test FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA SPOTLIGHTS "PHENOMENAL" IRC-SUPPORTED URBAN FARM: As part of the IRC's New Roots program in several U.S. cities, refugees are planting fresh produce — which is hard to find in many neighborhoods — to feed their families and sell in farmers' markets. They have found a fan in First Lady Michelle Obama, who calls the IRC-supported urban farm she visited in San Diego in 2010 a "phenomenal" model for building healthy communities.

Mrs. Obama features the San Diego New Roots farm in her book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America  (Crown, 2012).