Cultivating hope with our new neighbors

MnWorldRelief_Farm-0786-214x300Today almost 2,000 refugee families have garden plots at Twin Cities churches thanks to Arrive Ministries connecting congregations to refugees who are interested in growing nutritious and culturally appropriate food. We are grateful to the growing number of churches who have converted lawns to gardens as they open their property and hearts to their new neighbors.

What are Church Refugee Gardens?

Churches have unique opportunities to assist refugees in their transition by providing land for growing produce. Most refugees have a long tradition of being agriculturists and have a deep attachment to the land. They desire self sufficiency through food production and hold a cultural identification with farming.

Refugees and recent immigrants are now landless, living in crowded urban apartments, isolated in ethnic communities. Churches, by providing gardening plots, enable refugees to break out of isolation, engage in physical activity and grow fresh and nutritious food for their families. This provides a huge physiological and economic lift to refugees.

Arrive Ministries seeks churches to build friendships with refugees through gardening. This is an opportunity to get to know new neighbors living in your neighborhood and to assist them in integrating into American culture. The Church Refugee Gardens provide refugees with a connection to their past and to their future while helping them put fresh food on their tables.


Congregations can help by:

  • Providing access to land on church property or in neighborhoods for refugees to garden
  • Having church members with garden plot alongside refugee gardeners, building relationships and sharing a mutual passion for gardens
  • Tending church gardens to provide produce for donations to local food banks
  • Providing transport to area garden for refugees and church members to work side by side

Arrive Ministries provides:

  • Orientation and resources for starting your own church garden
  • Training and insights into the various refugee cultures
  • Help pairing congregation with refugee families and community for gardening
  • Assistance in thinking through garden organization and leadership

Access Resources for Church Gardens
About Church Refugee Gardens (PDF)

Dennis Murnyak, Volunteer Coordinator, Church Refugee Gardens Program
Dennis Murnyak is a former Peace Corp volunteer and missionary agriculturalist in East Africa and brings his passion for food production and self-sufficiency for refugees to the Twin Cities where he makes his home. Challenging churches to “convert” lawn into gardens, Dennis consults with congregations to help equip them for starting their own church gardens.  Dennis can be contacted at or at 651-332-6463.

Church Refugee Gardens: Growing food – growing friendships

Arrive Ministries envisions a future where hundreds of congregations in the Twin Cities with land resources provide garden plots to help refugee families with gardening opportunities as they build a new life in America. These garden plots provide an opportunity to befriend, mentor, share stories and faith as we learn from one another.

Gardening options:

Friendship Gardens are plots provided by congregation members in their own yards to refugees, immigrants or the needy.

Welcoming Gardens are garden plots offered to refugees, immigrants or low-income people in the community. They tend the garden plot themselves and harvest produce for their own use. The congregation provides water, compost and, if possible, tools and seeds.

Offering Gardens are church gardens that are cared for by members of the congregation and harvests are donated to the needy in the community

Home Gardens are cared for by congregation members and neighbors who donate part of their harvest to the church to be added to the donations to food shelves

Arrive Ministries recommends Welcoming and Friendship Gardens to allow refugees to grow their own food and independence as well as relationship-building between people of different cultures and faiths.