J500 Media and the Environment


Podcast: Juniper Gardens by alyv

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.

Listen to the podcast.

Podcast Transcript

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 BonarRachel 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.

RB: How has it been for you to be a farmer?Aye Aye Nu at market.

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.

AA: Yeah. We like to sell, fun, you know, market. Like, “Hey, my friend, take home. Take home.” They say, “Thank you, we are hAye Aye's flowers.appy.” I think about like that.

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.

Aye Aye and Nito Nu.JL: Six years here. Do you have family? Do you have kids?

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?

Aye Aye Nu on farm.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.

JL: What do you hope for in the future?Farmer and children at Juniper Gardens.

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!



Reconnect With The Land by matthewtb

Reconnect with the Land…

Supplementing you diet with homegrown produce can make a difference.

My grandparents were in their 20s when FDR asked them and the rest of the nation to pick up the food slack through Victory Gardens. WWII had started, and while our troops received the fruits of our commercial farms, my grandparents and their peers were at home, learning the ways of self-sustainability and conservation as they went. Ordinary citizens reconnected with the land and filled every city green space with gardens. They were the first generation of urban farmers in this country and the project was a major success.

Today, half of the world lives in urban areas. We are relying more than ever on the rural half to produce the majority of food for not just those in the cities but for themselves also. We have some of our food shipped thousands of miles to reach our plates, when a wide variety of that food can be grown only feet from our back porch. As our society continues to grow, we will have to find new ways of feeding the planet. Overpopulation is inevitable and this will lead to food shortages unless we, as individuals, change how we interact with the land that grows our food.

Urban farms are once again starting to sprout up across the country. Citizens like Sherri Harvel, are reclaiming vacant lots and turning them into lush farms.  Aye Aye Nu is reconnecting with her Burmese heritage by farming the land with Catholic Charities, in Kansas City, Kansas.  Pov Huns is continuing his personal relationship with the earth, by giving back what he takes from it. They are all waging this new war.  It is a battle for food security, where victory is a thriving environment for all of us and a better relationship with the land.  These farmers have taken positions on the front line and now it’s our turn to join the fight.

Eating food comes naturally, so should growing it. By reconnecting with the land, we will have a greater understanding of what it takes to produce what we eat. It is a culture change, away from fast foods and frozen dinners, to give us a fresh start, where we respect our food and the land it is grown on.  In return, the food will nourish us.

-Matt Bristow / Group 2

Photo by Matt Bristow / Video by Group 2 courtesy of youtube