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New Roots program helps refugees build community through food

gardening vegetables AP
Posted at 5:00 AM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 08:16:41-04

PHOENIX — Abdelgabar Mohamdian knows how to make the fruits and vegetables in his garden thrive. It's how he made a living growing up in Sudan before fleeing the country more than 20 years ago.

"Three hundred thousand people were dead from the dictator government," he said. "It made a lot of people seek refuge."

Now living in Phoenix, he found others with similar experiences through New Roots, a program by the International Rescue Committee that has community gardens at several locations across the Valley.

Participants help cover the cost of water and soil, but New Roots provides the land and space. Isaac Jensen, New Roots Development Coordinator, says participants can keep the food or choose to sell it.

"Whether that's sharing how to grow things, sharing dishes, or just sharing stories about your culture or where you're from, New Roots really kind of brings that together," Jensen said.

Mohamdian, now a U.S. citizen, recently started his own business called US Organic Farmers LLC and sells what he grows. He's now using what he's learned to teach others.

"We always thank them, thank this program, thank this organization," Mohamdian said. "They show you how to start, or how to start in your new life, in the new country with the new people."

Jensen says they work with individuals throughout different parts of their resettlement process. They also have nutrition classes for newly arrived refugees.

You can also buy a weekly food box filled with produce grown by people in the program. For more information, click here.