New Roots in Tucson
The New Roots Program of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Tucson empowers refugees and other community members to grow their own food for their families and for the market. Many refugees have agrarian backgrounds, and the program allows them to employ their skills for the economic advancement of themselves and their families.
Read below for some of the highlights of this summer's New Roots programming!
Micro Producers Academy Graduation
We are proud to welcome four new Micro Producer farmers into the New Roots farm incubator program! These four exceptional individuals (pictured with excited New Roots staff, family, and friends) completed nine modules of weekly lessons focused on crop planning, markets, and food safety. The next step for these aspiring farmers is to plant for the fall and prepare to start selling at market. Just like our other cohorts, they will continue to receive ongoing technical support to help them succeed in the Tucson food system.
Congratulations to our new graduates! We cannot wait to watch your businesses blossom!
You can support ALL New Roots farmers by shopping at the Abundant Harvest Cooperative booth at the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market on Thursdays at the Mercado San Agustin!
Getting Serious About Composting at Literacy Garden
Our New Roots intern, Jason, gave a demonstration earlier this month on maintaining a healthy compost pile and the farmers caught on quickly. Some are now collecting used coffee grounds from local cafes and bringing veggie scraps from home to build their own compost on their farm in Amphi.
According to the EPA, food scraps and yard waste together currently make up about 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
Summer Garden Successes
Even with soaring temperatures and below average rain, growers at our Literacy Garden produced beautiful yields of a variety of summer crops.
Lush lemongrass, yummy okra, striking white eggplant, hardy peanuts (pictured right), and a heritage crop called mboga chungu (meaning bitter vegetable in Swahili) are among those doing remarkably well in this summer growing season thanks to the dedication of our New Roots farmers and gardeners.
Mboga chungu are also known as moringa trees and are common throughout subtropical and tropical regions of the world. According to Trees for Life International, mboga chungu / moringa is rich in calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and protein.
"We are Amphi" Block Party
Last month, our partners at Literacy Connects, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, hosted a block party for the Amphi neighborhood, home to a large number of refugee residents and New Roots' own Literacy Garden.
The "We Are Amphi" event boasted everything that you could possibly want in a block party held in one of Tucson's hottest months: water slides, food, music, a fire truck and hose to ready cool down a large group of excited kids—and even puppies!
This community-building event was well attended by IRC clients and their families as well as other neighborhood residents. Thank you to the organizers for all of the hard work on this incredible celebration to help bring together the Amphi community!
Field Trip to Brackenfeld Family Growers
Four farmers from IRC's Micro Producers program attended a field trip this month to visit fellow Abundant Harvest Cooperative (AHC) members, Breckenfeld Family Growers, in Southwest Tucson. Farm staff Andreas, along with co-founders Kris and Don, led New Roots farmers on a tour of their growing facilities and shared some of their knowledge acquired over years of experience.
After the tour, farmers were invited to sit in the shade and discuss challenges that they've faced this year on their own farms. The whole group shared a knowing laugh when Andreas admitted that most of what they've learned over the years came from "messing up."
Cultivating closer relationships with other farms in the AHC has been a rewarding aspect of the Micro Producers incubator program, both helping to integrate refugee growers into the Tucson farming community and providing technical and personal support from others who passionately share the pursuit of farming the desert.
Get Involved with New Roots!
Involvement at our New Roots farms has remained active all summer and we'd love for you to join us!
This month we are holding volunteer hours on: Tuesdays from 5-7 pm at Literacy Garden at 200 E Yavapai Road
Our normal monthly work parties are on a summer hiatus and will resume in the fall.
If you would like to be added to the New Roots volunteer list-serve to get reminders and updates each week about where and what we will be working from week to week, email [email protected] and ask to be added.
Thank you to all of our volunteers—you make so much of this important work possible!
Don't have time to volunteer but still want to contribute to New Roots Programming?
Currently we are in search of the following donations:
- Commercially Food Safe Sanitizer
- Paper Towels
- Latex Gloves
- Small Shed in Good Condition
- Garbage Bags (Contractor Size)
- Shade and Frost Cloth
- 1/2 in. Flexible PVC
- Large Binder Clips
- 2ft long pieces of Re-bar
- Dr. Bronners Unscented Liquid Soap
- Twist Ties
We are always appreciative of your contributions that help New Roots farmers and gardeners continue to grow and succeed.