Linda Adams, who serves as a Community Wellness Coordinator through Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program, began working with the Chin community in 2016. Starting in the fall of 2019, Linda, Brooke Alford, our Urban Agriculture Educator, and Amy Matthews, our former Program Assistant and a local grower, met with local Chin Burmese leaders to understand their needs regarding growing vegetables. Over time a plan was developed to create a training garden.
The Chin Training Garden is made up of leadership teams representing Falam Christian Church of Indianapolis, Indiana Chin Baptist Church, and Falam Baptist Church of Indiana. Several Marion County Master Gardeners joined the effort and over time the team led nearly 30 volunteers through agricultural workshops and hands-on demonstrations featuring best practices in organic gardening. While learning about crop planning, the garden leadership team was able to select crops for the garden, choosing a combination of ethnically preferred vegetables and vegetables more commonly known to Indiana growers.
"We are excited to see the results of the Chin Garden this harvest season,” said Brooke Alford, “I hope to see more of the specialty crops introduced by these growers make their way to local farmers markets in the future and we are thrilled they will have access to a few of their home country vegetables here in Indiana.”
Harvest from the Chin Training Garden’s three 25x25 ft. beds will be shared with volunteers, and two local food pantries serving the growing Chin refugee population now estimated at nearly 20,000. These refugees originate from the Chin State in Burma and are experienced growers, however, the climate of Indiana had previously proven quite challenging for them to navigate.
“When they arrived in Indy, they eagerly started gardens outside their apartments and later outside their homes,” said Linda Adams, “They have had a lot of success, but there has been some frustration with our climate. The warm springs can be deceptive leading to early planting of summer crops and then a cold snap hits and they lose their tender plants. There has been a lot of trial and error on their part to figure out what works in our climate. We hope with the support of Purdue Extension, we have taken away some of the gardening guesswork they were experiencing.”
The Chin Training Garden was made possible through support from the Purdue Extension Nutrition Education Program, and the Master Gardener Program’s Growing Together grant, Community South Hospital, Franciscan Health, the Indiana Nutrition Council, and The Falam Christian Church of Indianapolis.