Pathways to Accessibility
In the Fall, when COVID-19 regulations were reduced, we began to reopen for community workdays. Through the Saturday volunteer work days, we are able to invite neighbors and community members to help with daily farm activities and encourage exercise throughout the time spent at the farm. Our elders, with different cultural backgrounds, tend to their own farm plots and grow food to sustain and feed their families. They also convene in daily exercise through weeding, pruning, and harvesting their plants, while sometimes even engaging in the youth to teach different farm skills. The Resilient Roots Farm is a safe and open place for our neighbors and other members of the Camden community to visit. Visitors usually come to ask for seeds, to view and harvest plants for themselves, and to observe the beautiful plants and greenery around the farm. Sometimes our neighbors teach us new ways to harvest vegetables or show us farming techniques that been passed down through their families. During a farm volunteer day, one of our neighbors, Mr. Luis, came to the farm and asked if he could harvest some seeds to grow at his own personal garden. One of our cultural Puerto Rican crops included gradules or pigeon peas, and since we were still learning how to harvest the plant, Mr. Luis was able to show us. He showed us how to harvest the seeds from the plant and the small peas to cook with rice. We are always happy and excited to learn things from our neighbors as many of them are very knowledgeable in farming.
In regards to landscaping, in the beginning of the season, the walkways were very bulky, filled with dips and small hills, often making it hard to walk. This can also be said about the pathways between the crop beds. The plant beds were very uneven and the dirt within the bed would bulge out into the pathways. Over the summer one of our main projects was to fix the crop beds at the farm. To fix this issues, we installed wood beams between the middle of each bed, to strengthen the sides of the beds so that they would be firm when holding soil. Farm managers, volunteers, Land Gourdians, and Sprouts all worked together to measure, cut the wood, and nail everything together. Everyone had a chance to either use the electric drill or the saw at least once so that they could all gain some experience using it. After weeks of hard work, it was finally done. The beds were more even, looked newer, and were no longer in the way. Walking the pathways are now more accessible and easier to get through whenever anyone is watering, harvesting, or weeding.
About the Grantee
VietLead is a grassroots organization that strives to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity through intergenerational farming; youth leadership; health navigation; policy advocacy; and civic engagement. Our Food Sovereignty and community garden program was built from seeing how food is an important part of how refugees practice self-determination.