International Rescue Committee (IRC)

New Roots: The food is local. The story is global.

As an essential part of our broader resettlement efforts, the New Roots program enables refugees to celebrate their heritage and nourish themselves and their neighbors by planting strong roots—literally—in their new communities.

New Roots is about healthy families, secure communities and a more sustainable future. It’s about dignity, determination and the boundless possibility of human connection. And it’s about the power of people to heal and nurture positive change from the ground up.

In 26 U.S. cities, the IRC provides resettled refugees with the assistance they need to survive and thrive. Through New Roots and a range of other programs, we are helping them to establish a strong future for themselves, their communities and our world.

New Roots in Salt Lake City

New Roots seeks to build a healthier community through the development of small scale, urban farms and community gardens while increasing food access for refugees in Salt Lake City. 

Program Coordinators:

Grace Henley
Food Enterprise Program Manager
Aaron Lee
New Roots Marketing Coordinator
Cecilia Hackerson
New Roots Community Garden Coordinator
Alex Haas
New Roots AmeriCorps VISTA

The three focuses of New Roots in SLC are:

Community Gardening

The Community Gardening Program secures plots for refugees at community gardens throughout Salt Lake City. New Roots also collaborates with Promise South Salt Lake to develop new gardens in high-need areas of the City of South Salt lake. The New Roots program provides seeds, seedlins and instructions on the best gardening practices in Utah to help secure an abundant supply of produce for each refugee. The vegetables grown in these gardens help provide supplemental food for participants that is nutritious and easily accessible. New Roots brings gardeners together to share their agricultural skills and connect with their new home and community. In 2015, the Community Gardening Program worked with over 90 refugee families at 12 garden sites located across the city. 

If you would like to learn more about the Community Gardening Program, please contact Cecilia Hackerson, Community Garden Program Coordinator, at

Food Access

The Food Access Program runs the Sunnyvale Farmers Market (SFM), a market that sells produce at a very affordable price in the Sunnyvale Neighborhood, a low income area located in the largest food desert in Salt Lake Count with a high number of refugee clients. Refugees, and other low-income community members, can purchase refugee grown produce with their SNAP (Food Stamp), SSI, and WIC benefits and double their purchases through the Fresh Fund. Specialty ethnic crops such as Raio saag, Armenian cucumbers, pumpkin shoots and daikon radish are sold at the markets, giving refugees a chance to expand local culinary tastes and promote cultural awareness and appreciation in Salt Lake County. Education on food literacy topics such as Nutrition and Diabetes Management is also included at the market. New Roots builds secure communities by ensuring that locally grown produce is distributed effectively and affordably to low-income members of the community, including refugees.

In 2015, New Roots expanded their farm stand into a multi-vendor market located in Millcreek’s Valley Center Park. The market was open from June through mid-October and was host to half a dozen local vegetable producers. In all, market vendors generated more than $10,000 in fresh produce sales throughout the season. New Roots also expanded the scope of its Fresh Fund incentive program which matches (up to $10) money spent by customers using SNAP benefits. In its first year, the SFM made 885 sales and enrolled 244 households in the Fresh Fund program. In addition the market distributed almost $4,800 in match incentive. The Sunnyvale Farmers Market is located at 4013 South and 700 West and is open on Saturday each week from 12-4pm beginning the first Saturday in June.

In addition to farm stand sales, New Roots farmers continued to sell their fresh and often hard-to-find produce to restaurants and ethnic grocery stores throughout Salt Lake City. Farmer revenue from market and retail sales totaled more than $23,000 in 2016.

For more information on the Sunnyvale Farmers Market or for more information on becoming a vendor at the Market, kindly contact Aaron Lee, New Roots Marketing Coordinator, at

Micro-Training Farm Program

The Redwood Road Micro-Training Farm provides refugee farmers with the opportunity to grow and market a variety of crops. Through the direct selling of produce to consumers, the farmers are able to achieve greater economic independence by earning supplemental income for their families. The Redwood Road Micro-Training Farm provides large plots of land for farmers to cultivate, building their capacity to earn more income. Training and technical assistance is given to over 20 farmers from countries as diverse as Sudan, Burma, Bhutan, Chad, DR Congo and Burundi.

If you want to get involved with New Roots in Salt Lake City, please contact Lyn Spataro, IRC in Salt Lake City Volunteer Coordinator, at or call (801) 883-8456.

Check out the Sunnyvale Farmers Market and New Roots on social media!



Articles about New Roots in Salt Lake City:

Sunnyvale Farmers Market gives refugees in Utah a taste of Home

Salt Lake Tribune, September 2015

Seed Money
Catalyst Magazine, September 2015

New Roots: Local Food, Global Story
Cotopaxi, January 2015

Slow is beautiful: New Roots
Catalyst Magazine, August 30 2012

Urban Gardens Provide Outlet for Cultural Expression for Refugees
Deseret News, August 20 2012

West Valley Farm Giving Refugees Way to Put Down New Roots
KSL, July 24 2012