The International Rescue Committee, an organization that provides opportunities for refugees to thrive in America, recently inaugurated a new farm in the Bronx on a lot previously owned by the city’s Department of Transportation. Located at the Grand Concourse and East 153rd Street, the New Roots Community Farm will soon be a veritable garden of Eden full of fruit trees and will even provide up to 60 plots and planting beds for local residents to plant fruit and vegetables. Working with people from the local community, including volunteers from the refugee organization and children from the nearby KIPP Academy elementary school, the IRC has already planted peppers, tomatoes and basil – and that’s only the beginning.

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“By next year, this 6,500-square-foot lot will be a thriving community garden that ties together the neighborhood and people who came here from around the world,” Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement.

The farm is a wonderful use of previously wasted space. The land was previously purchased by the City of New York as part of a project to rebuild the East 153rd Street bridge over the Metro-North railroad tracks. Rather than let the land go to waste until construction on the new bridge began, it was decided to simply cover it with soil and create a garden.

Speaking to the New York Times, Ellee Igoe, an adviser on food programs for the International Rescue Committee, said the garden would help give refugees opportunities and teach them about nutrition. “The act of planting will help them establish new roots and allow refugees from different countries to exchange agricultural knowledge”, she noted.

The IRC’s other farm is also located in the Bronx. Called Drew Gardens, it is located in the West Farms neighborhood and has brought together people from China, Mexico, Myanmar and Afghanistan. However the gardens aren’t just for your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to eat free – they are open for the entire local community.  It is hoped that they will encourage the development of more city gardens and the growth of even more local produce.

The farm has already drawn national interest and First Lady Michelle Obama has even visited in order to promote her healthy living program.

+ International Rescue Committee

via New York Times

Images: Donna Alberico/IRC