Spring has sprung and we are still taking time to look at some of our New Roots farmers. New Roots is a national community garden program in which the IRC helps people to reconnect to their farming past and create fruitful tomorrows. The Dallas IRC manages four gardens throughout the city with a total of 37 gardeners. Participants grow food both for their families and to sell at a farm stand.
In the fall growing season, our longtime partner, Northridge Presbyterian Church sponsored refugee farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to offset the income they are losing from not selling at the closed markets. The produce that was not being sold was donated by our farmers and distributed into the community of Vickery Meadows by the New Roots Food Security program.
Here are some of the farmers they helped:
Ambar Subedi has been showcasing his agricultural talents in the Live Oak Garden for six years. Often working alongside his friends, neighbors, children, and grandchildren, Ambar is consistently dedicated to the land and feeding others. Ambar enjoys the garden because it allows him to work towards personal health goals by improving his nutrition. It is also a space to grow foods he is familiar with. Being a refugee from Bhutan, it is often difficult to find produce in traditional American grocery stores that are similar to those of his home country. In this picture he is holding mustard greens, which he often preserves through a fermentation and jarring process. He is proud to share his food and culture with the Dallas community.
Kumari and her husband, Chaundra, have been farming in Live Oak Community Garden since May of 2019. They are Nepali refugees from the country of Bhutan, and they’ve brought their agricultural knowledge with them to Texas. Together they grow food for themselves and their sister’s family of five. Kumari says that participating in the garden is meaningful to her because she can grow food for her family, practice English, learn new farming skills, and meet new people. Chaundra has taken on more and more responsibilities in the garden by offering his skills for general maintenance and upkeep. They happily donate produce to food insecure IRC clients, and are grateful for the opportunity to give back.
Nar has been practicing her agricultural skills with New Roots since 2017. As a single mother who works full-time, the garden is a safe and engaging space that promotes both her physical and mental wellbeing. Nar enjoys cooking Nepali dishes for her daughter with vegetables and spices that she grows in the Live Oak Community Garden. Nar is also a participant in the New Roots Micro-Producer Academy (MPA), where she attends urban agricultural trainings and sells her produce for supplemental income. Nar has made close friends through MPA, and now she regularly drives her friends to the garden so they can work together.