By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
For Nadine Nijimbere, the new community garden located on the grounds of St. John Vianney Church serves as a reminder of home.
Nijimbere, a refugee who came to the U.S. in 2007 from Burundi, remembers her parents planting and tending crops.
She’ll be doing the same this season at Peace Eden Community Garden, which was blessed and dedicated during a ceremony April 8.
The garden, located at 175 E. Kenwood Way, is a joint venture between Catholic Charities’ Common Earth Garden Program, the Americana Community Center and St. John Vianney Church.
Laura Stevens, program coordinator of the Common Earth Garden Program, thanked a host of supporters at the dedi-cation — including St. John Vianney parish, Americana, the parishes of the Pax Christi Collaborative.
“When it comes down to it, the space belongs to the growers,” she said. “They’ve put in a lot of work. We are grateful for the skills and talents they are bringing.”
The two-acre garden is divided into 133 individual plots. Refugees from Bhutan, Bosnia, Burma, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Nepal, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan as well as other members of the community, will be able to grow vegetables and greens in the space, Stevens said.
The garden in South Louisville joins 10 other such gardens tended by about 450 refugee farmers. The gardens are operated by the Common Earth Gardens Program, an initiative of the Catholic Charities’ Kentucky Office for Refugees.
The Peace Eden garden is situated on the far end of St. John Vianney’s campus, directly behind the Americana Community Center.
Father Anthony Chinh Ngo, pastor of St. John Vianney, said he wanted the land to be used for the good of the community.
“South Louisville is a very unique place in the city that many immigrants call home. St. John Vianney tries our best to help in the resettlement,” he said. “Through the help of Dare to Care, we pack over 300 baskets of food each week (to be distributed). The people are in need of food.”
Creating a garden, he said, will help these new residents “tremendously.”
Father Chinh said that as a priest his hope is to be with the people, Catholics and non-Catholics, “in order to share my life as their shepherd.”
“There is no better way to welcome the stranger than to be there under the blue sky, the bright sun or the soaking rain,” he said.
St. John Vianney parish also donated the first round of compost needed for the garden. And, the parishes of the Pax Christi Collaborative — Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Therese — raised $13,000 for a well at the garden.
Nijimbere, who serves as one of the garden leaders, said that in addition to providing a source of nutritious food, the garden will also serve as a “sense of back home” to the gardeners.
“This,” she said gesturing to the garden. “This is more like home to them.”
Nijimbere said she plans to grow tomatoes, eggplant, a variety of beans and corn.