'Growing Good from the Ground Up': International Rescue Committee launches campaign to support innovative New Roots program for refugees in U.S.

Sep 10, 2012, 08:05 ET from International Rescue Committee

NEW YORK, Sept. 10, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The International Rescue Committee has launched a campaign to support New Roots, a dynamic community gardening and nutrition program that enables refugees to grow, harvest and sell fresh and affordable produce while integrating into their new communities across the United States.

"We want newly arrived refugees to have a healthy start here, but in many communities where they can afford to live, finding healthy and affordable produce is not easy," says Ellee Igoe, the IRC's U.S. advisor for food security and agriculture. "The New Roots program is changing that."

Working with community partners, the IRC has established New Roots gardens in twelve of the 22 cities where it resettles refugees. What once were abandoned lots in cities like San Diego have become thriving community farms where refugees from conflict zones find solace in the land, return to the farming traditions they left behind and make locally grown produce available to their families and neighbors.

"The IRC's New Roots program is transforming lives and communities," says Igoe, "It's truly 'growing good from the ground up,'" the campaign's tagline.

The New Roots campaign seeks to engage the public through webisodes that tell the stories of refugee farmers planting new roots in the Bronx and recipes shared by refugee farmers from Sudan, Zimbabwe and Myanmar. It also features a pledge to stand with refugees as they rebuild their lives and ways to support the expansion of New Roots and other refugee resettlement programs.  Donations will be matched by Newman's Own Foundation and Starr International Foundation.

Award-winning chefs and restaurateurs David Burke and Michel Nischan and host of Eden Eats on the Cooking Channel, Eden Grinshpan are spokespersons for the campaign. 

"Many refugees still have that wisdom of the land," says Nischan, who has met with many refugees who were farmers before being forced to flee. "When they can share that wisdom with their neighbors and exchange ideas about farming, they can contribute to the restoration of communities across this country."

In New Roots cities, refugees are growing a diverse array of produce.  Amaranth, shisho and mizuna are sprouting up alongside African eggplant, Asian mustards, and Malabar spinach. 

To find out more about the International Rescue Committee's New Roots Campaign visit http://www.rescue.org/newroots.

SOURCE International Rescue Committee