Growing from Refugee to Community: A New Year for Gardens

Garden growing, summer 2010

From the archives: February 7, 2011

Last year the MN Council of Churches Refugee Services piloted a refugee community gardening project with eighteen Karen refugee families originally from Burma. The garden, located at the Rolling Hills apartment complex in St. Paul, was a huge success. Law Paw, one of leading women involved in the garden exclaimed, “The garden gives us fun, it gives us a community, it gives us a relationship with others.” This year the MN Council of Churches is excited to announce that we will be working with two new apartment complexes where refugees are living to start gardens. The new gardens will be located at Birmingham Street and at Case Ave in East St. Paul. These two new gardens will serve recent refugees from Somalia, Burma, Iraq, and Bhutan.

Community Gardens are important to refugee families as they transition from refugee camps to becoming full community members here in Minnesota. Gardens empower these families to grow their own culturally-appropriate and healthy foods as well as save money on groceries. Also as Law Paw noted above, gardens serve a way to build community with other refugee families living in the same apartment complex. The gardens serve as a way to make Minnesota feel more like home.

As the gardens are established this growing season, the MN Council of Churches Refugee Services is asking for donations of gardening supplies, seeds and plants. A tools and supplies wish list includes: garden hoses, watering cans, two tool sheds, hoes, trowels, shovels and spades, gardening gloves, compost, compost bins, rain barrels, fork wheelbarrows, materials and/or labor to build a fence, and of course, seeds! All donations will receive a tax receipt. Donations can be dropped off or you can request they be picked up. Contact Elizabeth Mason, VISTA Leader at 612-230-3221 or  or fill our donation form at:

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