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Seeds of Home

Inside the Global Growers Network

Article by Margarita I. Giraldo

Photography by John Wachs & Caroline Ficken

Originally published in Decatur City Lifestyle

Tucked off-the-beaten path at Decatur’s Legacy Park lives a garden where thirty-three families from Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar (Burma) and Afghanistan are growing diverse crops such as squash, sweet chilies, roselle leaves, and other items native to these countries. While the bounty harvested from this luscious green land may supply many local restaurants, this Kitchen Garden offers an allure unique to its farmers. 

Individuals who tend the fertile land are beneficiaries of the work done by the Global Growers Network (GGN). This organization, with offices located at Legacy Park, has made it their mission to partner with refugees who want to create a sense of home by celebrating their agricultural heritage and working the land to grow food and community. 

In 2010, Susan Pavlin, GGN's Co-founder and Executive Director, teamed up with a group of women from the East African countries, known as the Umarima Collective, to find a dedicated space where they could go back to their agricultural roots and have a "Saturday" garden. Over the last fourteen years, the network has grown from a single plot of land across from the Avondale Estates Marta Station to nine different sites with kitchen gardens, farms, orchards, and even a twenty-three-acre farm that is being used for individuals interested in enterprise farming. 

GGN manages close to thirty acres of land and stewards 160 families managing their plots throughout the state of Georgia. Through donations and grants, GGN manages training centers and event spaces and also provides administrative support to those who want to grow food. Individuals are given the opportunity to care for their specific plot and dive into horticulture. This allows them to feed their families, create a place for themselves in a new country, and literally plant roots to build bridges between the old and the new. 

As immigrants arriving in the United States with refugee status are set on the path to citizenship, gardening at GGN gives these new Americans the opportunity to uphold important food traditions while carving out a place of leadership amongst the local food movement. Whether working as vendors at local farmers markets or meeting volunteers from Churches and local universities among other groups, the connections forged are essential to the experience of creating a new home. 

Through the efforts achieved by Decatur's GGN, people are given the means to create a refuge, one that aspires to provide safety and comfort coupled with the magic that happens through the laborious but rewarding work of tending a garden. 

If you are interested in donating to GGN, please visit