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SAWC visits Thornton Street Urban Farm and Community Garden

Cultivating solidarity and togetherness

All members who attended this event were vaccinated with the latest booster dose

A core value we hold at the South Asian Workers’ Center is fostering a sense of solidarity and togetherness. Over the past years, at SAWC, we have upheld these values by deeply engaging in community gardening. To spark a shared interest in gardening, we have been sourcing gardening products, seeds, and tools to distribute them to our neighborhood.

Connecting around food is a great way to strengthen our community bonds. Sharing and creating food with one another allows us to celebrate each of our unique talents and traditions and honor the work that is often done by women. Our culinary programming features ingredients grown and shared by our members.

Go Green and Feel Blue was one of our most popular messages that came out last year. This phrase is tied with biophilia, the concept that human interaction with nature can promote mental and physical well-being. Studies have shown that growing vegetation and natural interaction reduces stress and improves our moods.

Raised beds ready for planting

Being connected with nature brings out more positive emotions and decreases our anxiety, which is something we could feel during our farm visit. In the past, we have done many nature and water activities to promote a sense of connectedness with nature and one another.

Over the past few months, thanks to our amazing partners at the Massachusetts Urban Gardeners program, we have been running workshops to teach our members about gardening. A special thanks to Anabel Rabiyah who organized and facilitated our wonderful sessions. A four weeks of online gardening workshops was designed with the fourth week being on any farm for practical learning. As well, we are grateful for Nasreen Latif and her excellent knowledge of growing South Asian seeds. Thank you for sharing your expertise and time with us.

Garlic farm at Thornton Street, Urban Farm and Community Gardens

We started our 2024 summer outdoor activities and the Practical of gardening workshop with a tour of Roxbury's urban farm and community garden. "The farm visit", as Team SAWC called it, was a day where we spent time with the growers to learn about their herbs and ethnic food created by the vegetation they grow.

While the hosts were getting ready to showcase team SAWC their beautiful farm, team SAWC shared scrumptious South Asian dishes to treat and greet the growers. We shared Theplas, Golguppas, bhajjias to kabobs, Chicken 65 to chowmin (noodles), and alu (potato) pickle to sooji Halwa (semolina pudding).

During our tour, we learned about the types of seeds to grow according to the seasons and how to nurture them year-long. While we walked around the farm, we plucked fresh garlic, coriander, sage, and mint. Members enjoyed the Bollywood music being played for us during the farm tour.

After the tour of the garden, there was a class on achar/pickle recipes, where we learned how to make a mint chutney and lasan (fresh garlic ) chutney with all of the fresh herbs we picked from the garden. While SAWC’s events always feature food, the tour allowed us to connect to how food is grown in a way that is rarely possible for working-class immigrants like us.

Preparations for Achar (pickle) making class

We would like to give a big thanks to the farm managers, Disha and Kanav, for being such gracious hosts and for our long-lasting friendships with the growers. Disha could speak Gujarati and understand some Bangla, while Kanav could speak Hindi and Urdu. Annabel could speak Arabic, and Nasreen brought the Bangla dialect to the mix. Our members are touched by your hospitality and greatly honored by the tour of your beautiful farm in Roxbury.

Coriander-mint chutney in making

Together, through these initiatives, we are centering food sovereignty. We are joining the fight for food equity and fostering a sense of solidarity and togetherness. Food brings us together; it makes us nostalgic, reflecting on where the taste originated from, and the fond memories attached to each dish. Sharing our food connects us to our roots and helps us put down roots as immigrant women, and it brings out our creativity and imagination. This day was a celebration of our desi community, sharing South Asian languages, music, dishes, and recipes, along with many stories and laughter. This was one of our best events for 2024, which team SAWC will always cherish.

Jyoti Sinha, (SAWC- Boston)

Sara Guisti, (Research Intern at SAWC-Boston)

Pavana Rai (Digital Highlight SAWC- Boston)


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