This week I spoke with Karyn Levin, the food hub manager for Global Gardens, an Idaho Office for Refugees program. You might have had produce from a Global Gardens farmer before, but she said there’s an even better way to get involved that closes at the end of June.
Q: How do you explain Global Gardens to someone who’s never heard of it?
A: What we do is support folks who have arrived as refugees who now operate their own small farming business. I sometimes describe it as a farm collective. All the farmers that we work with have their own individual business, but we have shared resources. … While a lot of these folks have farming and agricultural skills, there are barriers that exist. So Global Gardens comes in and fills in those gaps and supports the farmers in whatever ways they need to be successful.
Q: There are lots of ways to support refugee and immigrant communities — what does Global Gardens bring to the table?
A: Global Gardens was born out of a need that was identified in the community. In countries that folks come from as refugees, especially the farmers that we work with right now, it's very common that people grow their own food. So a lot of folks showed up to the U.S. with these skills and experiences, and also facing barriers to other forms of traditional employment, language, education, skills, as well as other things like transportation and, you know, visa complications and things like that. So it's really a two-way street where it benefits the farmers because they're able to be really successful in ways that other jobs that are available to them would not allow, and really provides an integral and really beneficial service to our community as well.
Q: How can people support Global Gardens and also get some fresh food?
A: The best way to connect with a Global Gardens farmer is by joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). How it works is folks sign up at the beginning of the season, and then for the next 18 weeks, you receive a bag of fresh, seasonal veggies every week. We've just started our CSAs in the past couple of weeks, but we're leaving registrations open through the end of June. So it's not too late to join. [The money] all goes straight to the farmers and so when people say “support local,” or “support Black-owned businesses,” or “support refugees,” this is the way to do it.