Title of Work

Women Refugees, Resilience and Gardening in the U.S

Document Type


Publication/Presentation Date

September 2020

Conference Location

Paris, France


Background: Refugees’ experience of integration into a new country and culture is often different from other immigrants as they manage the stressors that made them flee their home country. One concept of resilience refers to the ability to adapt and adjust to physical, emotional, and psychological stressors. The purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the relationship between gardening and resilience for refugee women living in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.Methods: This qualitative study recruited Bhutanese, Karen, and Hmong women gardeners from local community gardens from July to October 2018. Trained facilitators from the same ethnic/language group conducted focus groups and individual interviews using a semi-structured interview guide. All interviews were digitally recorded, translated, transcribed into English and entered into Nvivo 12 qualitative software for coding. A multi-ethnic research team used the constant comparative method to identify themes of resilience, hardship and coping among the gardeners. The university Institutional Review Board approved this study.Results: Thirty Bhutanese (14), Hmong (10) and Karen (6) gardeners participated in focus groups and interviews. Common themes on gardening benefits included social connections with other gardeners, physical exercise, a place for renewing their identity and relieving depression. Conclusion: Community gardens served as a place of refuge, social connection and self-affirming identity for many women refugee gardeners. Government and community agencies can adopt programs and policies to expand access to community gardens and similar social engagement activities to assist refugees in their transition to living in a new country.

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