Putting Down “New Roots”
“I hope that whatever we grow comes out tasting good!” exclaims Nar Maya Bista as she waters bean sprouts at a community garden in East Dallas. The cucumbers, tomatoes, Philippine pumpkin, bean sprouts, lettuce, and Thai chili pepper that begin to surface above ground are the result of constant care by a group of Bhutanese women that includes Nar Maya, all of whom are refugees resettled in Dallas by the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
In collaboration with Gardeners in Community Development (GICD), a Dallas-based non-profit, the IRC in Dallas has secured garden plots at a local community garden for refugees to tend and grow food.
Nar Maya farmed for a living in her native country of Bhutan, where the physical conditions were strenuous and her family could not own land. While living in a refugee camp in Nepal, Nar Maya took on the responsibility of distributing seeds and fertilizer as part of an informal community garden group that obtained permission to farm on land within the refugee camp.
She earned a certificate in farming at the camp, and today she shares her planting knowledge with fellow gardeners. At the community garden, she now has access to a greater variety of seeds and tools such as spades and rakes that were difficult to obtain in the refugee camps. Her garden is thriving.
When her family moved once more, resettling in Dallas with the help of the IRC, her husband quickly found full-time work and her children went off to school. Nar Maya frequently remained alone in the apartment. The IRC in Dallas has developed this “New Roots” project for refugees such as Nar Maya, and also works to support the sale of their produce at the local Dallas Farmer’s Market.
To learn more about how the IRC helps refugees put down “new roots” by growing and selling nutritious food, email VolunteerDallas@Rescue.org.