Bhutanese Gardeners Enjoy Refugee Church Garden Program
Before any soil was tilled. With just stakes in the ground. Community members ran to what would soon become a garden on the grounds of Mosaic Christian Community in St. Paul, to claim their spaces.
“Their smiles and enthusiasm were amazing,” said Pastor Jeff O’Rourke, Mosaic Christian Community.
Many of these Bhutanese refugees who resettled in east St. Paul, haven’t gardened in decades. Land hadn’t been made available to these displaced people since before they spent decades waiting in a refugee camp, and before their journey to America.
“Gardening is very important to my mom, she grew up on a farm in Bhutan, and spend the first 35 years of her life gardening“Gardening is very important to my mom, she grew up on a farm in Bhutan, and spend the first 35 years of her life gardening. But she didn’t have land to work with at the refugee camp in Nepal, nor at her apartment complex in St. Paul, MN,” said Durga about her mom Ran Gurung.
These days Ran Gurung has two plots of land – one of which is at Mosaic Christian Community, which has been a part of Arrive Ministries’ Church Refugee Gardens for five years.
“My mom has arthritis, but she still enjoys her time at the garden, so my dad and I take her 2-3 times a week to water and to weed,” said Durga.
In addition to saving money not having to buy groceries, Ran Gurung can grow the produce that tastes best in Bhutanese cuisine.
The reward are huge as far as connecting to families, building relationships, and breathing new life into our church“We grow chilies, pumpkins, ladyfingers, beans, onions and spinach. My mom grows the food that she most enjoys cooking with,” said Durga.
“The last 2 years, we’ve had a great relationship with 5 or 6 Bhutanese families in the neighborhood who garden with us. The reward are huge as far as connecting to families, building relationships, and breathing new life into our church,” said Pastor Jeff.
“My mom loves gardening and it is very important to her. We are thankful that the church allows us to garden on their land,” said Durga.