Filed under: Farmer Stories, Food + Health, Local Events + Action | Tags: Catholic Charities, Group 2, juniper gardens, KCCUA, local food, organic, Podcast, refugees
Aye Aye Nu came to America as a refugee from Thailand six years ago. She came here through Catholic Charities, which placed her and her now 9-year-old son, Nito, in Kansas. In their time here, Aye Aye says Nito has grown to like American food more than the natural food she grows on the farm in Kansas City. This is a common trend in immigrants to America. However, Aye Aye continues to get a lot of joy from working on the farm and selling what she grows at the Farmers Market. She and the other refugees at Juniper Gardens are able to reconnect with the land, and their agricultural pasts, everyday on the farm.
Justin Leverett: This is Juniper Gardens, an urban farm near the I-70 underpass just outside Kansas City. We spoke to Aye Aye Nu, an immigrant farmer, and Rachel Bonar.
Rachel Bonar: I work for Catholic Charities and the Refugee Resettlement Department. And this is a training farm for refugees. Right now, we work with women. And we would work with men if they wanted to but it’s not a consistent, yearlong income, so most of the men have other jobs and the women can come here.
Aye Aye do you want to, do you have anything you want to say about the farm?
Aye Aye Nu: I don’t know, Rachel.
AA: I think, so, I like to farmer, because, the vegetables are good for healthy. Like, because, um, be stronger, be happy farm. We plant the garden, because we have food, no problem. We can spread it too for other, for market, for money. I think about, another, like, for others, for friends, maybe we need to, like share together, for other people, for, like, happy. I think about that.
JL: So the food you can make you can give to people, your friends.
RB: Aye Aye plants beautiful flowers.
AA: I sell my flowers, happy, you know like, sometimes. Not sometimes, always. I see them, I say, “Oh my flowers go up. Go up.” Like, you know, my baby.
JL: How long have you lived here?
AA: I am six years here.
AA: Yes, my son. He’s 9 years old. His name is Nito. He’s a very handsome boy.
RB: He’s so cute.
AA: He’s so cute. He’s in first grade.
Aly Van Dyke: Does he help you, on the farm?
AA: Only he helps me watching TV, at home.
JL: so you get to cook for him with the food that you make here?
AA: Yeah, sometimes he like to eat my food. Sometimes, always he like to eat American food. Cheese, sour chicken, some place, like KFC, Papa John’s or something. Cheese and bread, like how do you make it here? I don’t understand.
RB: Grilled cheese.
Matthew Bristow: Back home, when you grew all year round, and now here it’s only half of the year, like six months. What do you do in the winter since you cannot grow?
AA: Stay home. Um, I have this last year I looked the job in the Triumph Company. Because of very far drive I will quit from this job.
RB: Everybody works at the Triumph. It’s a pork processing plant, a slaughterhouse, in St. Joseph. So it was an hour away. A lot, a lot of people are actually moving, refugees are migrating from other places in the United States to come here to work at that place. It pays pretty good, but it’s really, really hard work and everyone’s working second and third shifts, so it’s overnight. So when Aye Aye was working, her son was home by himself. Like she would leave while he was at school and then he would come home from school and be by himself.
AA: He say, ‘Ma, when are you done with this job, when you quit?’ he ask me one time. I say, ‘Nito, I will quit this job, ok?’ He say, ‘Ok ma.’
JL: What to you sort of hope for the future? Do you hope more people will get involved?
AA: Uh, future? I have my son, I think about only my son. I don’t have thought for future. Because, only my son. Because he go out, like he go be interested in something, maybe college. Or maybe something.
RB: My hope would be, um, for this year I have a lot of hope for the Farmers Market here on site. I really want to, um, make that more a part of what we do. And I’m hopeful that we can, whatever the women want to do we can make it happen that you know we can work on any of the barriers that are standing in the way. And if Aye Aye wants to have her own farm, sell at lots of markets, then I hope she can do it.
-By Group 2: Justin Leverett, Matthew Bristow, Aly Van Dyke and Tina Wood
Pictures also submitted by Katherine Kelly and the New Roots for Refugees Facebook page.
See our video of market reserach!
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