Thursday, April 28, 2011

Community Garden Developer

At the training farm, we always have more demand for growing space than supply. We've put all our energy into developing farm businesses, and along the way we've been constantly reminded that there are a lot of people that want to grow on a smaller scale. For folks who have grown up around agriculture their whole life, moving to the United States, living in apartments and working indoors feels strange and unfamiliar. Gardens help people feel at home.

The Chin, Somali Bantu and Bhutanese community leaders have been asking for assistance developing their own community gardens for the past few years, and we haven't been equipped to help.

In the fall, we wrote a proposal together with KCCUA and the three ethnic leadership groups to develop these gardens, and I'm happy to report that we got funding! We're hoping to host someone through the Mennonite Voluntary Service Program to coordinate these activities.

Here's a bit about the job:

The Community Garden Developer will work alongside ethnic community leadership from three refugee communities in Kansas City to start their own community gardens. The goal is that the Garden Developer will be empowering the community leadership to make their own decisions about the way that the gardens are run, so that they will be self-sufficient in a short time. We will also be hiring part time staff from each of the communities to translate and lead the development of the gardens.

We anticipate the major activities over the year to include:

1.) Helping to locate and acquire permission to garden on land
2.) Approaching local churches and groups to solicit donations of tools and equipment (hoes, spades, seeds, tillers, etc.)
3.) Helping ethnic leadership decide how the land will be split, and how individuals and families can access plots.
4.) Helping ethnic communities decide on rules for the gardens
5.) Locating free and cheap seeds
6.) Oversee the orientation and education process for new community gardeners.

We have met with the leadership and identified areas of town that they are interested in having gardens, and they are excited! A good fit for this position will have some experience working cross culturally, an interest or experience in gardening or farming and a desire to help develop effective refugee leadership.

Here's a bit about MVS from a current volunteer that is placed at the farm:


  • Volunteers live communally in a large house located in the Rosedale neighborhood of KCK -A full house would have 5 volunteers livinig in it, don't worry you will have your own bedroom but we share bathrooms, the kitchen, and living other living spaces.

  • We buy food together and eat together on a regualr basis -The unit covers all housing costs, food costs, local transportation costs, and provides the volunteer with $50 a month in spending money, part of the program is a commitment to living simply.

  • MVS provides health insurance for all volunteers -The house is owned by Rainbow Mennonite Church, and there are certain lifestyle expectations that come with the program. They are not seriously burdensome but they do exist.

  • I think there might be a requirement that applicants be members in good standing of a Chirstian Church, being a mennonite is not required.

  • Student loans can be defered and many placements are eligable for Americorps money -basically the biggest thing is that the potential volunteer is on board with living communally and is not hostile to expressions of christian faith.

  • Also they need to be on board with having NO MONEY, because they won't have extra for that thing that they want.

If you think that you might be interested in this position and want to see the full job description, please email rachel: rbonar AT catholiccharitiesks DOT org

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