Gardening Initiative

Since 2013, HIAS Pennsylvania has worked in collaboration with other agencies and community partners in the city of Philadelphia to provide community gardening options for the refugees we serve. Many refugees are experienced farmers used to growing their own food, and often ask about opportunities to get involved in gardening. With the generous support of others, HIAS Pennsylvania has sought out land for and established three separate refugee community gardens. In addition to being sustainable food sources, these gardens have the added benefit of serving as a way to integrate new residents into existing communities by creating shared activities and spaces to interact with others.

Our first garden was opened in Max Myers Park in Northeast Philadelphia in May 2013. HIAS Pennsylvania staff, Sudanese community members, and volunteers came together to build and fill raised beds as well as buy and plant vegetables. The garden continues to be used by area residents.

The second garden was opened in April 2014 in Northeast Philadelphia, and is run by a group of Bhutanese refugees. With the help of Partners for Sacred Spaces, HIAS Pennsylvania was able to connect the prospective gardeners with the All Saints Episcopal Church in Rhawnhurst. Father Timothy Griffin generously opened a plot on the church’s grounds to Bhutanese community members at no cost, and it is still in use today.

The same Bhutanese gardeners hoped to expand their operation at the All Saints Episcopal Church, and one year later a third community garden was established. Conroy Catering, a locally-owned catering company located on an expansive historic estate in Northeast Philadelphia, is the site of this latest garden. Business owner Jack Conroy graciously offered his land to the gardeners, and his grounds keeping staff cleared it for use, all free of charge. Volunteers from the Penn State Master Gardeners network, Klein JCC, and Rhawnhurst NORC contributed their expertise in garden planning. Lowe’s donated all fence building materials, the Philadelphia Water Department furnished the plot with rain barrels, and the City Harvest program (a venture of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) tilled and provided soil amendments. Eighteen families currently share the community garden at Conroy to produce their own food.

Breaking ground at All Saints

Picking out plants at Max Myers

Setting up the newest garden at Conray Catering

Conray Catering 360 view

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