UNHCR - Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

04/22/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/22/2024 12:39

In Chicago, refugee farmers cultivate hope and a sense of belonging

In Chicago's Albany Park, a once vacant urban plot has been transformed into a vibrant center of community and growth. Here, the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm thrives. It is a place where over a hundred refugee families have found a sense of purpose and community. Forced to flee their countries, these refugees now tend the soil, cultivating not only plants but also hope.

For Celestine, a refugee from Burundi, farming is a thread that connects the disparate parts of her life - from her childhood in Burundi to fleeing to a refugee camp in Tanzania, and, finally, to being resettled in the United States. "When we fled [to] Tanzania, we met a lot of challenges like how to eat. We were eating food that was not healthy but after a few years they gave us some land, a plot so we were able to grow everything we needed," she said. Amid the hardship of fleeing conflict and resettling to a new country, a spark of resilience was kindled as she turned once again to the familiar comfort of farming.

In Chicago, Celestine grows produce found in traditional Burundian cuisine. Her plot of land neighbors those of refugees from all around the world, and together they harvest produce that are staples in their respective cuisines and cultures. "It is work that I was used to back home," she explained.