Tracker Pixel for Entry

Growing Together Opens New Garden

News | May 18th, 2021

Growing Together Opens New Garden

By Annie Prafcke

https://www.facebook.com/annie.prafcke

20 May 2021

On April 15th, Growing Together held a groundbreaking for the opening of its newest gardens at Gethsemane Cathedral. The space, which consists of two plots, is Growing Together’s seventh garden location in Fargo. Run by volunteers and focused on supporting New Americans, Growing Together offers opportunities for gardeners of all backgrounds to learn from each other.

Growing Together planted its first seeds in 2006. Community leaders, along with tomato-grower Jack Wood, started a garden as a way to better engage with the New American community. The initial garden was on a 100 ft X 100 ft plot and tended to by eight families, all of whom had emigrated from countries across Africa. At the onset, the space had separate sections for shared gardens and individual plots. However, the group quickly discovered that the most prosperous areas were the ones in which everyone gardened together.

Growing Together now has grown to include gardens at seven locations serving over 150 families. All are shared gardens or family gardens, so volunteers put in 2-3 hours weekly and divide the produce evenly. In 2019, the Growing Together gardens produced roughly 65,000 pounds of food. Excess produce was donated to local food pantries such as the Emergency Food Pantry and Dorothy Day.

Jack Wood estimates that today, about 75% of Growing Together’s gardeners are Bhutanese, but volunteers have also come from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and India. Others are F-M locals.

According to the ND Human Services Committee, between 2012 and 2017, 3,084 refugees were resettled in North Dakota, the majority of whom are Bhutanese, Iraqi, or Somali. 74% of those refugees were resettled in Fargo or West Fargo.

Yet, refugees face major challenges even once they’ve resettled. As reported by the LA Times, while North Dakota has been a national leader in refugee resettlement, the closed-border political rhetoric and policy of the previous administration has ignited anti-immigrant attitudes. Furthermore, food insecurity is a major concern. In 2017, 4,295 refugees in North Dakota were using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The COVID-19 pandemic has not made life any easier for refugees. Daniel Hannaher, Field Office Director of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), shared data from a national survey LIRS and Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) conducted in August 2020. He says that in the survey, they found that while 87% of refugees still report going to work in-person, 50% reported “not at all confident” or “somewhat confident” that their household could afford sufficient food in the next four weeks.

Rosaline (Rose) Swarray has been gardening with Growing Together since its onset. She first arrived in Fargo as a refugee from Liberia in 2005. At the time, she was a single mother with four kids. She says it was difficult to find the healthy produce she was used to eating in her home country. It was also expensive. She used to drive roughly 236 miles from Fargo to Minneapolis to purchase food. Now that she volunteers at the gardens and receives a portion of the produce, she says she can store greens and vegetables all winter.

“When they give me the food, I have enough. I have to share with my friends,” she says.

She is also thankful that the gardens have provided her and her children with the opportunity to meet kind people from around the world.

“We have Potlucks. We have different foods. It’s fun,” she says. “Before COVID, every year at Christmas, they have a party. They bring gifts for all of our kids. They have been so nice to us inside the garden.”

Swarray also says that gardening provides her with an opportunity to spend more time outside with her family.

“From the beginning to the end, I just love it because [during] summertime you don’t have anything to do,” she says. “You come back form work and you’re just in the house. The kids are in the house. [At the gardens], you can take them outside to go and get fresh air.”

Jack Wood says that Growing Together encourages mutual learning between people who have only lived in North Dakota and immigrants who are new to the area. Rose Swarray has taught many gardeners how certain plants considered weeds in the West, such as Lamb’s Quarter and Pig’s Weed, are actually nutritious greens. Gardeners who grew up in the Midwest have demonstrated how unripe green tomatoes can be fried and eaten.

While Wood asserts that most people have been welcoming of Growing Together’s New American volunteers. Yet, he states that when they started their 25th St. Garden in 2006, some neighbors were resistant to their presence. After witnessing the gardeners’ dedication and the respectful way they treat the land, Wood says attitudes changed.

Jack Wood believes that with the proper resources and positive mindsets, Growing Together’s garden model can benefit any community. He says, “We feel that this garden could work anywhere in the world. It takes leadership and forming that community.”

And the benefits are abundant. Rose Swarray says the gardens provide her with everything she needs - fresh food, fellowship, and family.

She says, “Agriculture is life. Food is life. If you do your gardening, you have everything.”

_______________

More information can be found at https://www.growingtogetherfm.org/ and interested volunteers can contact Jack Wood through this form: https://www.growingtogetherfm.org/contact-us.html.

Recently in:

By Alicia Underlee Nelson and Sabrina Hornungalicia@hpr1.com                                                             sabrina@hpr1.comThe friendly folks at Drekker Brewing company have something exciting brewing, in fact,…

MayKenny Wayne Shepherd KWS creates genre-defining rock n' roll.Fargo Theatre, Sunday, May 1,…

May 14, 7am - 11amForest River Park in Fargohttps://fargoparks.com/events-and-deadlines/fargo-birding-festivalHike the wooded trails, learn from experts and look for dozens of different migrating birds during this free,…

By Kaylah Stangler  kaylahstangler@hotmail.comGuest editorial: You say you want a revolution Five years ago, my husband and I bought our first home in…

By Ed Raymondfargogadfly@gmail.com How Can We Know Democracy When We Have Never Experienced It?Some Americans have said we had democracy when one rich man wrote that all men were “created equal and endowed by their Creator with…

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

By Rick Gionrickgion@gmail.comEgg bake is about as North Dakota as knoephla soup. You betcha! Two local breakfast bests serve different versions of this dish. Let’s taste which restaurant’s bake is the most…

By Jim Fugliejimfuglie920@gmail.comUkrainians are much on our minds right now, with the Last World War apparently beginning in their country. North Dakota has a smattering of them. I’m going to tell you the best Ukrainian story…

By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comPhoto credit: Amazon StudiosAmy Poehler’s nonfiction feature debut as director is a solid and informative account of the inextricably linked personal and professional lives of two visionary…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comPlains Art Museum celebrates silver anniversary1997 was a big year. The Spice Girls were the hottest thing since sliced bread, George Clooney was voted the sexiest man alive, we lost Princess…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comDrag shows, for me, feel like a celebration of artistry, esthetic, music, and camaraderie. With a dash of confetti thrown in.The local drag community is a close-knit family. Giving back to affiliated…

By Sabrina Hornungsabrina@hpr1.comCharlie Berens is a man of many hats. The creator of the “Manitowoc Minute” is a newsman, comedian, writer and musician. We had the opportunity to speak with the Wisconsin native about his new…

By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…

by Laurie J Bakeremsdatter@gmail.com Part of modern yoga is participating in the world around us. We live in a time of upheaval in society and nature, and of great suffering in humans of all ages. Most of us perceive this suffering…

By Lonna Whitinglonnawhiting@gmail.com When we talk about the healthcare system being broken or failing us, what does that actually mean? It’s a question I’ve been grappling with since 2013 when my mom was diagnosed with…

By Curt Stofferahn  https://drcinfo.orgRecent news about proposed economic development strategies in North Dakota had me thinking that…