“Food injustice, then, can occur when a group’s collective food relations are wrongfully interfered with or coerced by the actions of another group.” (K.P. Whyte)
A refugee is a person forced out of their country due to matters out of their control, typically having to do with natural disasters, war, or political reasons. When a country’s government abuses their power and purposely harms their citizens, a person has no choice but to flee their country if they want a better life for themselves and their family. As these refugees enter their new environment, it is extremely difficult for them to feel comfortable with their surroundings and new community.
As K.P. Whyte said, it is truly unfair to people when their relationship with food, and the process by which they obtain their food, is interrupted due to matters out of their own hands. It is bad enough to be torn away from your country and your environment, but it is even worse when you feel like you have no way of connecting to your old, comforting upbringing. Since food plays a significant role in most societies, it is important to provide people with the proper access to foods that play a significant role in their culture.
I believe that New Roots will provide the Burmese refugees with three main outcomes: the ability to connect with each other, the ability to connect with their new community, and the ability to connect with their food. I truly believe that by providing these refugees with a place to perform a therapeutic activity, such as gardening, that reminds them of their homeland; they will be able to achieve these outcomes successfully.
The process of working together will help foster a relationship among these refugees and help foster a new community amongst themselves and hopefully, the rest of their new community. Hopefully, this garden will allow the refugees to step out of their comfort zone and engage with local Catonsville members and allow them to build a new community in their new location. Also, it is extremely important to allow the refugees the ability to connect with the land and their food once again. Since many refugees have backgrounds in farming, it must be beneficial, both psychologically and physically, to provide them with their own land to grow the food that reminds them of their homeland.
The New Roots project is about more than building a public garden, it is about fostering relations between a newly formed community and their environment.