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Community garden provides refugees with support and comfort through pandemic

A community garden in Seattle, Washington is providing a place for immigrants and refugees to come together and find community while growing food from their home countries.

Once a neglected parking lot, the garden, known as Paradise Parking Plots, is now a place for people to gather and tend to their plants.

Community members bond while growing their own food in the garden. (Hannah Letinich)
Community members bond while growing their own food in the garden. (Hannah Letinich)

“We have de-paved over 50,000 square feet of asphalt and put in garden beds,” said Tahmina Martelly, a program manager for World Relief Seattle, which founded the garden. “We have 44 in-ground beds and six handicap access beds. We have people from 23 countries growing culturally appropriate foods and making friends with each other.”

Martelly, who immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh and has worked in refugee resettlement for more than two decades, said that the space has only become more important amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Signs show the different regions that plants and their growers come from. (Adam Kaufman)
Signs show the different regions that plants and their growers come from. (Adam Kaufman)

“We see gardeners in this garden who are coming in the middle of a pandemic and growing their food,” Martelly said. “Often, I’ll have gardeners tell me, ‘My plants don’t know there’s a pandemic. We expect to have food, because we put the work in.’ Having the power to grow your own food, a virus can’t take that away.”

Gardeners include Prem Adhikari, a Bhutanese refugee who grows mustard greens and long sod beans and has been working in the garden for over three years.

“It’s very difficult to go to market and buy the vegetable … (but) we have a garden, like a life to meet other people,” Adhikari said. “… It’s a lot of fresh, green, without chemical vegetables.”

Immigrants and refugees grow foods from their home countries that might be unavailable in the United States. (Hannah Letinich)
Immigrants and refugees grow foods from their home countries that might be unavailable

White House, Democrats Both Support Coronavirus Stimulus Checks, Kudlow Expects Republicans To Fall In Line

KEY POINTS

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said stimulus talks appear to be at a standstill
  • Larry Kudlow says talks are not dead 
  • Kudlow insisted the U.S. is in a V-shaped recovery but certain sectors still need help

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow says he expects Republicans to fall in line if the White House reaches agreement with Democrats on the next round of coronavirus stimulus relief.

Negotiations appeared at a standstill after President Donald Trump agreed to boost the size of the package to $1.8 trillion – a move rejected by Democrats who called it inadequate and Republicans who said it was too expensive.

Kudlow told CNN’s “State of the Union” he talked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Saturday night and is convinced stimulus talks are not dead, noting Senate Republicans unanimously passed their own version of coronavirus relief – albeit a modest $500 billion measure – and “they will go along with it” once a deal is struck between Democrats and the White House.

House Democrats earlier passed a $2.2 trillion package, a slimmed down version of the more than $3 trillion measure they approved in May.

“We’re asking for targeted assistance,” said Kudlow, ticking off a list: enhanced unemployment benefits, aid to small businesses and direct stimulus checks to individuals.

“Those are things everybody absolutely wants,” Kudlow said.

Among the sticking points is the size of enhanced unemployment benefits. Democrats wants Americans who lost their jobs due to the pandemic to receive an extra $600 a week – the same amount that was approved as part of the CARES Act in March – while the White House has supported $400 a week.

Democrats also want funds for cash-strapped state and local governments, which bore the brunt of coronavirus costs, help for schools for COVID-19 testing and cleaning,

Vegan Kitchen: Support Black-owned food businesses

Shanna-Kay Wright uses simple ingredients to make the vegan dishes at Yardie Ting in Portland. The owner of the Jamaican restaurant in the Public Market House, Wright says the menu’s many vegan choices reflect the influence of Ital food on the island.

Ital food, eaten by members of the Rastafari religion and movement, is usually vegetarian and always minimally processed. However, Wright points out that Yardie Ting’s vegan dishes don’t qualify as Ital, since to suit local tastes she uses non-Ital ingredients such as salt and garlic powder.

“All my years growing up in Jamaica, you would not use any all-purpose seasoning,” explained Wright, who has run a catering business in Portland since 2013. “Ital means food that is from the earth. No powder seasonings. No salt. All organic. All natural.”

The jerk tofu at Yardie Ting in the Portland Public Market House comes with black beans and a kick of spice. Photo courtesy of Yardie Ting

Ital or not, the Yardie Ting vegan dishes, including jerk tofu, coconut curry, the Mon Hungry sandwich, spinach patties, and the fried plantains, taste great and sell well.

But Wright reports foot traffic at the Public Market House remains slow, with many of the surrounding office buildings still empty. Even so, the brand new restaurant is “staying afloat.”

I’d like to see Yardie Ting doing better. And it’s not just because I like the food.

It’s also because Wright is Black, and I want to take action to promote equity and demonstrate that Black Lives Matter. As a white ally in one of the whitest states in the nation, one of the simplest actions I can take is to spend my money at Black-owned businesses, such as Yardie Ting.

In Maine, we’re blessed to have the new directory blackownedmaine.com, which allows users to

Bill to expand support for community addiction treatment passes House

A bill that would establish a $25 million fund to support organizations specializing in addiction treatment and support for family members of those suffering from addiction is heading to the Senate after passing the House last week.

The Family Support Services for Addiction Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Sens. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMeeting Trump Supreme Court pick a bridge too far for some Democrats Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election MORE (D-N.Y.) and Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoHillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference GOP senators call on Trump to oppose nationalizing 5G Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out MORE (R-WV) in the Senate as well as Reps. David TroneDavid John TroneUS Chamber of Commerce set to endorse 23 House freshman Democrats Preventing the opioid epidemic from getting worse requires attacking it at the source Bicameral group of Democrats introduces bill to protect immigrant laborers MORE (D-Md.) and Dan MeuserDaniel (Dan) MeuserMORE (R-Pa.) in the House, passed the lower chamber via voice vote on Thursday.

Under the bill, local and national groups under a wide umbrella of addiction-related services would be allowed to apply for grants under a fund established to provide $25 million in grants over half a decade. Applicable groups include addiction support groups for both those with addictions and their families, education and training organizations, as well as “systems navigation” services which help families find addiction treatment centers.

“Addressing the addiction crisis in our state requires supporting families who are impacted by

Pre-Order This Special Himalayan Tea and Help Support a Nepalese Tea Garden

Just in time for colder weather, a premium tea company is launching a cool program that any tea lover should be interested in. From now through the end of October, Rare Tea Company is offering customers the opportunity to pre-buy an autumn harvest for a “Special Himalayan Harvest” black tea—all the while supporting a family-run organic tea garden in Nepal.



Paul Winch-Furness


© Provided by Food & Wine
Paul Winch-Furness

Rare Tea Company, which operates through direct trade and buys from farmers at prices the farmers set—as opposed to buying from brokers, commodity markets, or middle-men—counts Claridge’s in London, Noma in Copenhagen, and Benu in San Francisco among its customers. However, Rare Tea Company has lost 70 percent of its business due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting devastation that has rippled across the hospitality industry, founder and CEO Henrietta Lovell told Food & Wine. Much of the demand for high-end tea has fallen away, she said.

“We want to buy as much as we can from these farms because they really need it, but the problem is not supply, it’s demand,” she said over FaceTime. 

A handful of large companies supply the majority of tea sold in Europe and North America, and most of the communities supplying that tea live in poverty. Programs like this give consumers a chance to shop ethically, with their money going more directly to the farmer.

For the past decade, the company has been working with Jun Chiyabari, described by Rare Tea Company as “one of the best tea gardens in the world.” With business down, Rare Tea Company didn’t have the funds or demand to purchase an autumn harvest that Jun Chiyabari needed to sell. That’s where the Special Himalayan Harvest tea comes in. After talking with the team at the tea garden,