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New Roots for refugee community in Indiana

With the rising Indianapolis skyline to the north, community members chatter with each other as they harvest colorful vegetables in their garden. Bright red tomatoes and green beans rise from the ground alongside green spikey produce and a variety of peppers traditionally grown in Burma (Myanmar).

Fleeing from military dictatorship and religious persecution in the Chin State of Burma, many Chin refugees have made Perry Township, on the far southside of Indianapolis, their new home. Since 2000, the Chin community has grown to more than 20,000 people.

Linda Adams, community wellness coordinator for Extension’s Nutrition Educational Program, serves limited resource communities looking for access to proper nutrition and opportunities for physical activities. Adams identified the large refugee Chin community in south Indianapolis as a population in need based on census data showing high poverty.

Adams and the Purdue Extension – Marion County office worked with members of the community and partnered with The Chin Center to identify ethnically preferred foods. This research showed that much of the ethnic produce is not found locally. 

“This led us to ask if there is a way to make their preferred produce more available. One way to help you feel comfortable in a new community is to have the food from your home country. These discussions also showed a strong community desire to create a community garden,” added Linda. “They were interested in learning about the Indiana climate, timing of planting and harvesting, compost and pruning of trees for fruit growth.”

Read more: https://purdueag.exposure.co/chin-community-garden 

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