A Chance to Garden for Opening Doors' Refugee Clients

How a new community garden is bringing communities together


An unlikely source gave rise to a new community garden for families in the Arden Manor neighborhood including refugees from Nepal. “It started with a shooting,” Vickie Guanzon, apartment manager for Villa Capri Apartments said.


According to Guanzon, the shooting spurred action among community members who decided that something needed to be done to improve neighborhood conditions. “We needed to find something to do to keep people busy…and that’s where the idea for a community garden came from,” Guanzon said.


Today, local residents of the Arden Manor neighborhood, including Opening Doors’ clients like the Rai Dil family, are able to connect with their neighbors and spend time with their families at the Shepherd’s Field Community Garden.


Introduced to the garden by Guanzon, the Rai Dils, refugees from Nepal, are enjoying being able to grow tomatoes, chilies, and pumpkins on their garden plot. Lazri Rai Dil spends most evenings at her garden plot watering her vegetables.


“She loves to work on the garden…she likes to pass the time there,” Lazri’s daughter, Bishnu said.  Guanzon, whose tenants include families from Nepal, explains that for families like the Rai Dils, gardening is also a way to connect to their roots.


“The garden is a great thing for the tenants that come from Nepal because [gardening] is their background,” Guanzon said.  Guanzon estimates that a total of eight or nine tenant families from Nepal are using the garden.


All tools, supplies, and land were donated through the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd’s Impact outreach program. There is no cost to garden for local residents.


Walking through the garden, where there was once litter and crime, rows of lavender plants grace the front walk while a chicken coop in a back lot provides entertainment and eggs.


“What this garden is doing is bringing families in our complex together,” Guanzon said.


For more information about the Shepherd’s Field Community garden go to http://www.goodshprd.org/impactgarden.htm.