RE: Refugees and Community Gardening
From my NYC experience, Community gardening with refugees is pretty much
the same as community gardening with Americans.
1) Some of your community will have undoubted have experienced interesting
times, i.e., starvation, mortar attacks, land mines, homesickness, terror,
some really rotten memories, recurring nightmares and the disorientation
that comes from leaving home quickly with the clothes on your back, a few
possessions and no American Express card.
Generally refugees understand the old 1930's line, "It's a great life, if
you don't weaken."
2) As people, I've found refugees from the former Yugoslavia, Central
America and South East Asia ( mostly H'mong) who I've gardened with in NYC
community gardens to be some of the finest people and gardeners that I've
3) The refugee gardeners that I've worked with know how to garden. Best
gardening practices differ from country to country and a degree of
sensitivity is necessary here . It might be a wise thing to check out the
agricultural norms in the regions where your target population is coming
from. For example, in rural SE Asia, nightsoil fertilizing is a traditional
practice. If your local sanitary codes preclude this, you may want to inform
your gardeners beforehand that Americans are peculiar and prefer to use
chicken and horse manures as well as traditional composting.
4) Structure is a good thing. Have clear garden rules, have them translated
into the languages that your gardeners understand and above all else, be
fair. Everybody's bull get gored equally. ( The garden that I'm involved
with in NYC has materials in English, Spanish and Arabic.) You undoubtedly
have some rules and practices that have worked for you. I'd also check out
the ACGA website http://www.communitygarden.org/
and the archive of this listserve:
5) Get your gardeners involved with governance, rulemaking, composting and
maintenance of the garden during the planning stages. Participatory
democracy starts at the grass roots. Community gardening is a good way to
get folks involved in their neighborhoods, become active rather than passive
6) Become aware of ethnic festivals and make them part of your garden's
year. Everybody likes a good party, everybody likes to be included. Make
diversity a strength, something that makes you special.
7) Voter registration and community gardening go together. Plan to do it
when you're open in all of your gardens.
Here's a cute piece from the Sacramento Bee on community gardening:
I'm sure that other folks on this listserve have their own recipes and will
chime in soon.
Great luck! Let us know how it works out for you and what you learn in the
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ginger Ogilvie [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Monday, January 08, 2001 12:41 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: [cg] Refugees and Community Gardening
> Greetings. I am the Community Gardening Coordinator for Wasatch Community
> Gardens, a small non-profit which operates four community gardens in Salt
> Lake City, UT. We are interested in starting a program that focuses on
> the needs of refugees in our city. I am hoping to get information on
> other programs in other cities which focus on the same thing. Any
> information would be useful!
> Ginger Ogilvie
> Wasatch Community Gardens
> 350 South 400 East
> Salt Lake City, UT 84105
> (801) 359-2658
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