By Sarah Novicoff; International Rescue Committee Journalism Intern
Three International Rescue Committee in Los Angeles interns and Volunteer Coordinator Rameena Rahman visited the IRC in San Diego office and the New Roots Garden as part of an intern field trip July 11. They were joined by interns from Liberty in North Korea, a nonprofit focused on resettling refugees from North Korea.
Interns learned about the financial services, youth programs and resettlement operations organized by the San Diego office, but the field trip centered around the Food Security and Community Health department. The New Roots Garden in City Heights operates on land owned by the California Department of Transportation and was the first community garden built on land from a city lease.
“The New Roots Garden demonstrated the potential of community-led projects,” Maddy Glenn, the IRC in LA Employment Intern, said about the trip. “I enjoyed learning about the benefits of allocating a space for refugees to participate in the local economy with skills brought from their previous homes.”
The garden has become a model for many others nationwide and was visited by First Lady Michelle Obama in April 2010. Approximately 80 groups utilize the 3-acre plot for income patching, supplementing employment income with produce sales, but the garden has also been shown to have a significant effect on gardeners’ mental health. Ninety-five percent of users reported feeling more connected to the surrounding community.
“I loved observing the impact of a space designed around community needs,” Sarah Novicoff, the IRC in LA Journalism and Employment Intern, said. “The field trip was a great chance to learn more about other IRC offices and their programming while bonding with other Los Angeles interns.”
After visiting the garden, interns ate lunch at Pho Hoa, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant near the IRC in San Diego office, and bonded with one another.
“Through the trip, I came to appreciate how genuine, intelligent and adventurous the other interns and staff are,” Annie Park, the IRC in LA Immigration Intern, said. “I really enjoyed my trip to the New Roots garden with the other interns and appreciate that the IRC in LA arranged this opportunity for us.”