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PHILLY : STAKE

Refugee Urban Farm received a $1000 grant at Stake #2 on January 30th, 2011

1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish:
The Refugee Urban Farm Project is a new project that will provide a space for recently resettled Bhutanese and Burmese refugees in South Philadelphia with a place to garden as a community. The program seeks to improve refugee diets by providing nutritious produce indigenous to their ethnic backgrounds; offer refugees a therapeutic outdoor space in which to build community, reconnect to their agricultural roots and engage in regular exercise; and provide refugees with a steady food source to supplement their limited food budgets. The refugees will also record their recipes, and create a community seed bank with culturally appropriate varieties.

2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $750 is your imaginary budget:

The Stake grant will help provide crucial materials for the creation of this community project. Funding will go towards recording and printing materials for a cultural recipe book with nutritional analysis, hand tools for gardeners (shovels, hoes, gloves, and rakes), and supplies for processing vegetables in order to store for winter.

3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):
Since returning to Philadelphia I have worked as a Farm Educator and Farm Manager. This project perfectly combines my interests and experience in cultural preservation, community organizing, and urban food production. I have worked on organic farms for over 7 years and am deeply committed to empowering people to grow their own food. The first community garden I started brought together recent immigrants and community members in Los Angeles. As a community organizer in NYC I became interested in the cultural connections between people and their vegetable/ herb varieties. After, I received a grant to travel and research the cultural and nutritional importance of heirloom seed diversity in 7 countries.

4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community?

NSC has resettled 328 Burmese and 148 Bhutanese refugees in South Philadelphia since 2007. Burmese and Bhutanese refugees come from many years of living in refugee camps with limited access to health care, food, clean water, and hygiene. Around 40% arrive with unmanaged, chronic health conditions. They have also experienced emotional trauma and PTSD as a result of war, torture, and loss of loved ones. The resettlement area, is a virtual “food desert” with the nearest grocery store approximately 15 blocks away. The farm and therapeutic garden will help recent refugees to feel at home in a new city and in an unfamiliar environment. The refugees will work together to produce healthy, culturally appropriate food for their families.

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