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Gardening with Refugees and Immigrants

In 2009, BNAN began a partnership with seven Mutual Assistance Associations (MAAs) to introduce Boston's immigrant and refugee families to local vegetable gardening and education. In partnership with these MAAs, BNAN has trained hundreds of immigrant and refugee families and placed them in their neighborhood community gardens. We have also led education workshops on backyard and container gardening. Participants come from Haiti and Vietnam as well as many African nations including Somalia, Sudan, Congo, and Eritrea.

The program has successfully generated a new generation of leaders from among the refugee communities in Boston’s community gardens. Participants from the program have participated in the Boston Garden Council, led workshops, advocated for additional gardening plots with policy makers and helped orchestrate the “Produce to Pantries” project. The new community garden at the Bromley Heath housing development in Jamaica Plain is a GRO project.

The program, in its current phase, will have the benefit of starting with a network of over 850 refugee community members growing vegetables in Metro Boston in backyard and community gardens. As BNAN and the MAAs work together, the goal is to continue to support refugees and immigrant families to improve their gardening skills, help more interested refugee families start gardening, and to strengthen the involvement of refugee youth in urban agriculture.

If you would like to learn more, contribute funds or partner with the program, please contact Vidya Tikku at or call 617-542-7696.

Video Link
Community Garden News

The Gardening through Refugee Organizations (GRO) project hosted a cooking-based nutrition workshop at City Natives in Mattapan in August 2010 for the Haitian and Vietnamese residents of Boston. Workshop content was translated in Haitian and Vietnamese. Participants learned about the composition of a healthy diet, healthy cooking options such as grilling both vegetables and meat with reduced salt and oil/fat contents. Attendees spanned all generations and got to taste the food and learn home made salad dressing recipes. View video excerpts of this cooking workshop, click here for video one and click here for video two.

Video Link and PDF
Photo Voice Project / The Story of GRO

During the growing season of 2010 GRO worked with the Institute for Community Health to facilitate a Photo Voice project. GRO participants volunteered to photograph their gardens and use those photos to share what gardening means to them. What follows is the story of GRO, told through their words and images of the gardeners themselves.

Click here to view the video.
Click here to download the pdf of these stories and photos.