Imagine you are far from your homeland, living in a foreign city, where everyone speaks a language you don’t yet understand.
Imagine your first visits to an overwhelmingly large grocery store, looking for something familiar to buy and cook for your family. It seems the foods you have eaten all your life aren’t available here.
Imagine spending your days learning the new language, learning to use the bus system, learning how to cook on an electric stove, learning to go to appointment after appointment, and eventually, if you are fortunate, finding a job. All this time, you are missing your life as a farmer.
Now imagine being able to have your own garden plot. You can get to it because it is on the city bus route. Tools are available in a shed. You spend time outdoors with other gardeners from your homeland and from other countries. Your children can help in the garden and play safely at the garden’s edge. You can take home bags of vegetables that you have grown for your family.
While this is not your homeland and much is still confusing in many ways, the simple acts of growing your own food, of putting your hands in the soil, of watching the seeds sprout and mature, of chatting with your friends brings comfort and some sense of stability in this new land.
This is what many “New Americans” (both refugees and immigrants) experience as a result of gardening at the Sycamore Community Garden at NHTI in Concord. Since 2009, a small group of committed local people makes this possible for more than 130 families on the 160 garden plots in the former corn field on the floodplain.
Sycamore Community Garden’s Mission:
The group is now looking for both new board members and volunteers to help fulfill the mission of:
- Making gardening accessible to those whose limited resources prevent them from growing food.
- Providing food security and access to organic, culturally significant food.
- Increasing cultural understanding and empathy through the communal act of gardening with gardeners from around the world and from the Concord area.
- Providing opportunities for New Americans to develop and exercise leadership skills in the garden’s organization and management.
- Serving as a living lab for NHTI students in the new Sustainable Agriculture Program.
Who are we looking for?
People with skills in grant writing, communication, law, gardening/farming, and engineering/maintenance. People who wish to make a difference in the lives of New Americans. People interested in organic, local food.
To learn what it takes to support what one refugee calls “the greatest kindness a community can give to the refugee community,” please come to our informational meeting on Tuesday, February 21 from 5:30-6:30pm at 301 Grappone Hall on the NHTI campus. Refreshments will be served so please RSVP to Doris Hampton or Ruth Heath.
Ruth Heath is a gardener, music lover, contra dancer, and outdoors lover who is now (mostly) retired from her careers in math teaching and tutoring and computer programming. She has a special interest in refugees from contact with West African refugee students during her time at NHTI. As advisor of the NHTI Environmental Action Club since 2001 she has been able to share her passion for earth care and stewardship with many students and has been on the garden’s Board since it began in 2009.