Title of Work

Refugee Women Gardening: “Because we plant things, gardening makes our heart feel pleased.”

Document Type

Unpublished Paper

Publication/Presentation Date

January 2021


There are multiple social, and institutional barriers for refugees adapting to life in any new country. In this study, we explored how community gardens serve as a structural intervention to mitigate the mental and social stressors for refugee women in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. We conducted focus groups and interviews with 30 Karen, Bhutanese and Hmong gardeners about the value of gardening. We identified six themes: (1) the challenges of living in the U.S.; (2) gardening as a coping mechanism for depression; (3) the satisfaction from growing vegetables; (4) the physical benefits of gardening; (5) a connection with their home country; and (6) their gender role as a woman. Recognizing the common isolation of refugee women and supporting place-based interventions like gardens may facilitate their social and emotional well-being as they transition to living in a new country.

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