The IRC in Seattle is partnering with King Conservation District to host a series of nutrition workshops for refugee and immigrant community members. Facilitated by the IRC's New Roots program, workshops will offer learning opportunities on different topics related to holistic health, nutrition, and community agriculture.
Established in 2010, the IRC's New Roots program promotes food access and community wellness for refugee and immigrant communities, as well as South King County more broadly. New Roots helps families adjust to their new home through gardening, nutrition education, orientation to U.S. food systems, youth leadership activities, and more. New Roots programs also foster emotional wellbeing and social connections for people experiencing isolation or other challenges associated with moving to a new country.
The New Roots team hosted the first workshop of the series on the topic of Farmacology (that’s right- with an F!). Farmacology is an emerging field of study on the interconnectedness of soil and human health. IRC community gardeners joined the workshop from the safety of their own homes.
Participants listened to a presentation and took part in discussions on organic farming and the correlation to healthier soil. The health and social benefits associated with urban community gardening was a topic of interest for many atendees, all of whom are gardeners in such communities. The better health outcomes for seniors, lower rates of chronic health issues (including asthma, obesity, alcoholism), reduced crime rates, and economic opportunities were highlighted by presenters. Better self-rated health, which is actually the best indicator of longevity, is another benefit that results from gardening in urban communities. Gardeners were pleased to be reminded of how growing their own food benefits overall health and to discover the science behind these outcomes.
Outside of personal and professional development, workshops are also a great way to connect with one another while practicing physical distancing and following stay-home orders. While gardeners and IRC staff are frequenting the gardens less often and unable to meet in person for workshops, they continue to find ways to engage and learn together virtually. In response to COVID-19, the New Roots team has quickly adapted its programming to ensure progam participants are healthy and safe. New precautionary measures will soon allow community members to return to the gardens and reap their healing powers.