Refugee news: Community garden, multicultural potluck

Mike KnaakPrint St. Joseph, St. Joseph0 Comments

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Announcements brought to you by Cultural Bridges of St. Joseph, a committee of Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization. We are dedicated to ease your transition into our community.

The Sisters of St. Benedict enlarged their community garden space this year. This allowed 12 of our local Somali families to become gardeners for the first time.  Most have moved from cities and have never had the chance to garden. 

Since many of them don’t speak much English, we had to figure out how to communicate with them about how to plant the gardens. We handed out a piece of paper that listed how far apart and how deep to plant each seed. We had just the right amount of volunteers on our planting day to help with the planting.

We have had some meetings after the gardens were planted that discussed how to take care of the gardens. They learned how often to water, what plants are weeds and how to know when to harvest the produce. At our gathering last week, one of the gardeners said how much fun having a garden is.

One of our gardeners lives very close to the garden. He was a farmer in Somalia, so he already knew how to garden. He and his nephew come over often to weed and spray for potato bugs. Their garden is one of the best cared for and productive of all of the gardens.

The gardeners are very diligent about watering and weeding. All of them are very happy with the abundance of the output of the gardens. We all have learned much this first year of gardening. Next year we will have improved skills to be even better gardeners.

The Sisters of St. Benedict have been very welcoming to the Somali people who have moved to St. Joseph. They are very thankful for the opportunity to be able to rent community garden plots, to be able to grow their own food, to lean about new plants and to meet the other gardeners from St. Joseph.


Cultural Bridges is hosting a multicultural potluck Sunday, Aug. 25, at Resurrection Lutheran Church in St. Joseph. At 10 a.m. the documentary “Warehoused, the Forgotten Refugees of Dadaab” will be shown. A former Dadaab resident will be available to answer questions. The potluck will begin at 11:30 a.m. Children are welcome and activities will be provided for them after they have eaten. Contact Angela  Haynes with questions. 320-845-7789.


If you have any questions, please contact Juliana Howard at 715-791-8976 or Jamal Elmi, 320-310-2351.

Author: Mike Knaak

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