From the archives: March 7, 2011
Last Monday, we had our first garden meeting at the other apartment complex in East St. Paul. This time the group was a bit smaller with two dedicated residents joining us: Omoto and Ruth, both speakers of Amharic and originally from Ethiopia.
During the meeting Omoto, who has lived here for ten months, told us that the ecology and farming in Ethiopia is much different from here in the United States. He explained that when he lived in Ethiopia, much of the farming is done completely by hand and often on a much smaller scale. Also he explained that due to the warmer climate and the very fertile soil, people can grow and harvest crops three times a year! Imagine trying to do that here with Minnesota’s harsh winters.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included what types of foods the residents wanted to grow and where they currently buy their food. Omoto told us (as well as translated for Ruth) that they were interested in growing sweet potatoes, corn and something called groundnuts. When asked where they buy or find most of their food here in Minnesota, he replied that they will go to Ethiopian restaurants or to general grocery stores such as Cub Foods. He also noted that some of the foods they buy in the general grocery stores are not the same. For example, he told us that Ethiopia grows many mangos but when he has bought mangos here they are not as sweet and juicy. One of the reasons Refugee Gardens are so important is because they allow residents to grow culturally-appropriate foods…which means, residents can grow food crops that support their specific cultural needs, based on their values, beliefs, practices, and traditional diets.
We look forward to continuing to recruit more and more residents to be involved! At our next garden meeting later this month, we will start the process of mapping out the final garden plan!