By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The coronavirus pandemic has shown how crucial it is to lead a healthy lifestyle. Thanks to newly secured land in South Philadelphia, fresh foods will be available for years to come.

“This is really a preserved and dedicated space for our rich, diverse neighborhood to come together, grow food that people need to feed their families,” SEAMAAC coordinator Joel Arnold said.

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Making unused land, usable and sustainable.

SEAMAAC, an immigrants’ rights organization, is celebrating the completion of two community gardens in South Philly. Through its Growing Home Gardens program, they are allowing those in immigrant communities to grow food from their homelands.

Mu Nae has been growing here for four years. Eyewitness News spoke with her through a translator.

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“It reminds me of home,” she said, through a translator. “It tastes like home.”

The gardens are on Emily and Mercy Streets. The area has large immigrant populations from Burma, Nepal and other south Asian countries.

In the gardens, there are now over 100 planting beds. For $25 a year, SEAMAAC gives growers access to the garden, seedlings and everything else they need to grow their food.

“Fresh food, Burmese food,” Khin Aye, an immigrant farmer, said. “I can plant and I can eat because the store, I can’t buy.”

The gardens originally popped up 10 years ago, but now, working with the Neighborhood Gardens Trust, and Councilmember Mark Squilla, SEAMAAC was able to secure the land from further development. Surrounding the garden on Mercy Street, there are at least four homes under construction.

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“Giving people agency over their own lives to guide their own future,” Arnold said.