Planting the seeds of community is something for which 17 year-old Anna Wherry has a passion. In addition to attending high school and volunteering with the Baltimore Medical System, Anna has been working to make life in the United States easier for a group of Bhutanese refugees.
Anna has worked to introduce urban farming techniques to members of a refugee community in Baltimore, whose citizens suffer from insufficient access to food. After meeting Khada Nanda Upret, a Nepali refugee from Bhutan, Anna discovered that many Bhutanese refugees grew up surviving on their crops. Because there was a lack of space for gardening in Baltimore, Anna helped the refugees find a place near their community to set up a garden. The plot of land they found was run by Regional Management Inc., a property management company.
The owners of Regional Management Inc. support a former Provisional Accelerated Learning (PAL) center called the Goodnow Community Center. The refugees were already familiar with the Center because of its educational and recreational resources. Civic Works, Baltimore’s service corps, helped the Center obtain sod cutting and tilling equipment while Regional Management’s buildings and grounds staff helped the Bhutanese operate the equipment. Anna, with her supervisor’s help, submitted an application to the Parks & People Foundation for the Bhutanese refugees to acquire seedlings and garden equipment.
Through Anna’s work, the Bhutanese refugees now have the Karesa Bari Community Garden, a plot of land where they can plant crops and other plants. “When you observe the Bhutanese families digging and planting in the earth, it is apparent that there is something important taking place,” Anna said. She said she cannot believe how quickly the project took off and feels like something was at work to bring all of these special people together for one common goal. When Anna ponders how the Bhutanese will feel when they harvest their first crop from American soil, she hopes it will nourish their stomachs and their souls.