Growing non-profit needs land, supports refugees and socially disadvantaged families

Posted at 7:52 PM, May 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-16 21:52:14-04

BOISE, Idaho — Global Gardens in Boise has been helping refugees and socially disadvantaged families for nearly two decades. Still, rapid growth in the Treasure Valley quickly limits the resource they need most – land.

Boise-based nonprofit Global Gardens accepts about a dozen families into the Farmer Entrepreneurship Training Program every year. Through the program, farmers receive a track of land and training on growing produce and running a small business.

Food Hub coordinator Karyn Levin said the program is increasingly popular.

“We’ve got a waiting list of folks that want to join the program,” she said. “We just need places to put them.”

Global Gardens
Global Gardens farmers work on Pond Street lot.

Global Gardens operates three farms, with additional smaller lots in Boise and Meridian. Levin said the land is either donated from organizations or leased from the city of Boise.

“They’re not huge plots. That’s why we have multiple,” she said. “Some of our farmers are on multiple sites.”

Farmers can grow almost any fruit or vegetable on their land – from onions to garlic or traditional produce from their homeland.

Olga Nlemvo and her husband, Marcel, are from the Congo. They’ve been with Global Gardens for five years, developing their business New Hope Farm.

However, she said the limited space affects their ability to grow and sell crops.

“We spent a lot of money for that seed, and now what do we do?” Nlemvo said. “We need land, please.”

Global Gardens
Olga and Marcel Nlemvo farm at Global Gardens in Boise.

Land is a fleeting resource in the Treasure Valley, and one Levin said Global Gardens relies on for the Farmer Entrepreneurship Training Program.

“There is a fear among farmers with all the development happening in Boise that in a couple years that land will be bought and developed,” she said.

There isn’t a ‘dream’ amount Global Gardens would need to accommodate farmers, but Levin said more would allow people on the waiting list to participate.

Related: Meridian moves forward with new downtown apartments and more, despite concerns about public space

In the meantime, the nonprofit has implemented some new upgrades to keep up with demand.

“We’ve been able to put in two huge bubblers, which washes our salad mix and our lettuce,” Levin said. “And a washing machine that a Boise State engineering student helped us convert into a giant salad spinner.”

Produce from Global Gardens farmers is available at local farmer's markets and through the Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). Levin said CSA is an eighteen-week subscription offering Treasure Valley families organic, farm-to-table produce between June and September.

Full-share weekly subscriptions cost $594 for the season — $33 per week – and come with eight to 10 varieties of vegetables and herbs. Half-share subscriptions are $378 for the season — $21 per week – and offer four to five items. Global Gardens also provides child care services.

Sign-ups for CSA are currently open, and Levin said the nonprofit is looking to extend subscription periods in the future.

Related: Support local refugee farmers with Global Garden's CSA shares