Garden Stories

The gardens are a place where courage, determination and the vision to build something new come together. Below you will find a snapshot of some of our refugee gardeners and their stories.

Growing Bitter Melon, Growing Home


When the Bhutanese government launched an ethnic cleansing program that escalated in the early 1990s, Dropada and her family were forced to flee. They arrived in Nepal in 1992, living in refugee camps until resettling in Philadelphia in 2010. At Growing Home Garden, Dropada grows bitter melon and mustard greens while looking to the future. Read Dropada’s story on the NSC website.

Seed Saving

roselleleavesIngredients central to the refugee kitchen can be difficult to find in Philly. Yet they are essential to dishes that connect refugees to their cultural traditions. Some travel with these seeds during resettlement, determined to maintain connection. Others have taken to travelling long distances just to find them here in the States.

Since its earliest stages, NSC and PHS have worked with refugees to attain seeds for in-demand specialty crops, from unique varietals of mustard greens to Roselle and Thai chilies. Refugee farmers have also spearheaded seed-saving initiatives, ensuring that these crops persist from one season to the next. This can be hard work, from drying the produce to storing seeds over the winter season. The rewards, however, can be seen in in gardeners’ plots. It has been a shared learning process for all – one that contributes to the vibrancy of our urban agricultural space.