Sunday, September 16, 2012

Refugee Gardening

Had a really fun, colorful shoot with the International Rescue Committee over the weekend at the Pauma Indian Reservation outside of San Diego. The IRC helps refugees from all over the world with farming techniques that teach them grow their own food and even sell it at local marketplace(s). Many of these garden plots are in heavily populated urban areas and are a welcome sight amidst much of the blight associated with many low income communities. So the Pauma Indian band donated some land for a large garden plot where these refugees could come and grow their fruits and veggies. There were all kinds of produce from Iraqi cucumbers, to watermelons, onions, tomatoes, squash and some other stuff I've never seen. About 100 of these refugees and IRC volunteers showed up on the day I was invited to help fix-up the place. They painted a barn, built fences around some of the garden plots, cleaned up trash, picked some vegetables, and spread mulch on some of the soil. They were mostly from Africa, Vietnam and Mexico and most came dressed in traditional garb. It was what I like to call a gift from the photo gods. The Sudanese women all wore these bright blue dresses and cast these big beautiful smiles. At the end of the day, there was a luau with foods from all over the world. It was kind of funny seeing these African ladies dancing to Mexican Mariachi tunes while eating traditional Hmong food. It was quite a melting pot.

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