Transplanting Traditions Community Farm
North Carolina. Focus on food sovereignty and cultural preservation, serving Karen and Chin American
About the Organization:
Their mission is to uplift food sovereignty in the refugee community through access to land, education and opportunities for refugee farmers to address community food insecurity and the barriers they face in reaching their dreams of farming. The farm provides a cultural community space for refugee adults and youth to come together, recreate home and build healthy communities, and continue agricultural traditions in the Piedmont of N.C.
Over the past decade, refugees from Burma have been the largest Southeast Asian refugee group to be resettled in the US. Today, the U.S. refugee community from Burma has reached close to 200,000 and families from Burma comprise one of the largest refugee groups in North Carolina, reaching over 9,000. In Orange County, where Transplanting Traditions Community Farm (TTCF) is based, refugees from Burma represent 90% of the refugee community and youth from Burma are the largest youth minority in Chapel Hill.
Upon resettlement, refugees face enormous economic, health and education barriers, making successful transition challenging. Low literacy, limited formal education, language barriers and unfamiliarity with US norms and expectations, refugees are often only able to access low-paying hospitality or service jobs. As a result, many refugees from Burma live below the poverty level, with little opportunity for upward mobility. These economic challenges further limit access to health and education impacting overall wellbeing and food insecurity. Combined with the inability to easily access culturally relevant Asian crops often contributes to chronic health conditions. Cultural bereavement from the loss of traditions, behaviors, and traditional work like farming also compounds mental and physical health issues in the refugee community. Youth and children are significantly impacted by these issues struggling to adjust and reducing social and education outcomes.
In response to the influx of refugees from Burma and to address the complex challenges of resettlement, Transplanting Traditions Community Farm (TTCF) began in 2010, originally as a community garden to support refugees from Burma to re-establish their food, farming and cultural traditions in the U.S. Since then, the work has evolved to uplift food sovereignty in the refugee community through access to land, education, and leadership opportunities. The farm provides a cultural community space for refugee adults, youth and children to come together, recreate home, heal from trauma, foster a healthier community and maintain valuable agricultural traditions as they build new lives in the Piedmont of North Carolina. In addition to being a significant NC cultural center, TTCF is home to a collective of sustainable farm businesses, owned by 13 Asian refugee women farmers, working together to co-create solutions to resist assimilative forces that face their families and the larger community. All of the individuals that participate in TTCF programs are refugees from Burma, majority women and girls, representing 2 minority ethnic groups, Karen and Chin, speaking four distinct languages – Chin, Burmese, Poe Karen and S’gaw Karen, in addition to English.