Refugee Gardeners Prepare for the Growing Season
Here in Salt Lake City each day is getting warmer, sunnier, and longer, and New Roots staff, volunteers and potential gardeners are getting excited as the gardening season rapidly approaches. New Roots provides plots for refugees in community gardens around Salt Lake County each year, and supports refugee community gardeners with tools, seeds, soil amendments, monthly workshops, and one-on-one instruction. In 2012 New Roots received roughly 100 applications from refugee families interested in gardening, and was able to match 90 families with garden plots. This year we have received over 150 applications from refugee families interested in gardening! With the support of community garden partners, particularly the Wasatch Community Gardens Network, New Roots will provide at least 100 garden plots in 10 community gardening sites across Salt Lake County in 2013.
New Roots staff are thrilled to have received so many garden applications from refugee families this year. Even more exciting is the reminder that regardless of where people are from and what their background and experiences have been, growing and eating food is something that brings people together and shows us what we have in common. New Roots has an extraordinarily diverse pool of gardening applicants for 2013, with families from Bhutan, Burma, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and even Moldova. We have applicants who have been in Utah for 5 years and applicants who have been here for 5 days. We have parents who want to teach their teenagers how to garden in order to keep their traditions alive, elderly couples who want to garden for health and vitality, extended families that want to garden together, young married couples interested in growing veggies organically, and adorable kids of all ages and sizes who just want to play outside all summer. We have applicants who speak a lot of English and some who only speak a few words. We have applicants who want to grow the familiar garden variety of tomatoes and green beans, and others eager to grow crops they miss from home like amaranth greens, bitter melon, long beans, thai eggplant, and Indian mustard. Starting in April families from all these backgrounds will settle into garden sites all over Salt Lake County and will begin sharing their skill and enthusiasm with Salt Lake City’s gardening community. We couldn’t be more excited to help foster diversity and cross-cultural exchange in the garden!
To learn how to support the New Roots gardening program, visit our IRC New Roots page.