PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Several vacant, derelict lots in South Philadelphia have been transformed into a vibrant, urban garden by refugees from Burma and Bhutan. These so-called “refugee gardens” have been good for the newcomers and for the community.
Growing season is almost over but these garden plots in the 700 block of Emily Street are still bustling with activity.
“Yesterday, I picked all the mustard and I ate them. They’re good,” said Bishnu, the unofficial translator for the Bhutanese families who plant at the garden.
They plant long beans and fava which are hard to find in the market along with some more familiar crops that help feed dozens of families.
“We have the best potato, chili, and lettuce,” Bishnu said.
Adam Forbes, of the nationalities service center, says the refugees were farmers before being forced out of Bhutan and the first thing they asked for was a place to plant vegetables.
“Though it’s small it’s been a great start create a space in the neighborhood where they can grow food but in a lot of ways it’s become much more about bringing the community together,” Forbes said.
The garden has also led to a way for the refugees to get more help.
“People come to the garden with paper work or questions about their kids’ health. So, we do a lot of that through the garden,” Forbes said.
Reported by Pat Loeb, KYW Newsradio 1060