This article by Brenda Harvieux originally appeared in the March/April issue of Northern Gardener.
CAPI is a nonprofit organization that serves more than 4,000 low-income immigrants and refugees primarily living in Hennepin County. Within its food and nutrition services, CAPI offers a garden program that creates access to culturally suitable food for Hmong, Laotian and other Southeast Asian immigrant families.
“Having seeds and plants from the Minnesota Green program has helped provide enough food for the gardeners to grow, and they have fun trying new plants they haven’t been exposed to before,” says Rachel Murphy, CAPI’s food and nutrition services coordinator.
The gardens include the Eden Prairie Senior’s Garden, where more than 60 Hmong elders garden. Several smaller garden sites provide plots to immigrants living in various communities. The newest addition is the Coon Rapids Garden, where CAPI rents 4 acres. “With this garden, we work with people who are interested in growing food for their families and also selling it at a farmers market,” says Rachel. “We want to encourage local food systems while helping them earn a little money.”
CAPI has seen the great mental and physical benefits of gardening for program participants. “It’s fun to talk to all the gardeners, to see what they’re growing, and to try their food,” says Rachel. “It’s really special going out in the garden with the seniors—they are so energetic and happy to be out in the sun with plants.”
This year, CAPI’s headquarters will be moving to Brooklyn Center. “We’re looking forward to connecting with gardeners there, and maybe having an on-site garden,” says Rachel.