Global Garden helps refugees feel more at home in Chicago with food security, healing

ByAlyssa Gomez Localish logo
Thursday, August 25, 2022
Global Garden helps refugees feel more at home in Chicago
Global Garden provides healing, horticulture and a new home for these refugees!

CHICAGO -- Chicago's Global Garden has created a community full of hope for refugees from all over the world!

Refugees are given their own plots of land to grow food for their families right there in the city, thanks to the Albany Park nonprofit.

"One-hundred refugee families have taken this vacant lot and turned it into a productive, green oasis," said Global Garden Executive Director Linda Seyler.

It is so much more than just a farm. It is a place where refugees can make a living, pursue their passion and be part of a community.

Founded in 2012, Global Garden has welcomed hundreds of refugees from a variety of different countries with open arms. The garden allows these families to not only carry on their agricultural traditions, but also provides them with food security and an economic opportunity.

"Most of the folks who come here to the farm were farmers in their home country," said Seyler. "Then, they get plopped in Chicago."

She explained how many of these farmers can be mistaken for unskilled workers and states, when "in fact, they have generations worth of farming expertise."

Global Garden won't let any language barrier stop them from creating a home where the refugees feel welcome, said Global Garden Farm Manager Haley LeRand.

"Even with our Burmese refugees, not all of the farmers speak the same dialect. We also have farmers from Bhutan who speak Nepali, we have farmers from Africa who speak a variety of languages from French to Swahililuckily we have our interpreters," LeRand said.

The interpreters help to keep communication flowing between the farmers and Global Garden staff.

"Most refugees arrive here with no material resources. They may have a bag that they can bring with them and that's it. Many of them come with their families. They got a lot of worries, a lot of stress. So another part of what were doing is providing healing," said Seyler.

Seyler stated that one farmer expressed his gratitude for the Global Garden, saying, "now, they can see were good people, because they see what we can do."