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Gardening and growing: A healthy lifestyle in Manchester, NH

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As I reached the Common Earth Farm, located in Bedford NH on October 10, Saturday at 11:00 am, farmers were busy cleaning up the stocks of crop remains they planted in the growing season spanning May through October. The farmers and volunteers were busing clearing the farm on the last day of season as they wait for the next season.

Chitra Niroula, a community farmer cleaning the farm
Chitra Niroula, a community farmer cleaning the farm

I was so excited to see that part of integration when I met Bhutanese farmers and American volunteers working together.

Dilli Ram Basnet, 60, had never imagined that he would be able to grow his own vegetables like okra, African eggplants, tukrukey, gourd, tomatoes, spinach, bitter gourd, long beans, cucumber and peepers, in his new land with new culture and tradition.

Though he was a traditional farmer in Bhutan, Basnet boasts of knowing so many ways of growing vegetables in a typically northern climate.

Farmers like Dilli had never heard about greenhouses used to grow seedlings in conditioned environment.

He says, “Once I started working in farm, I feel like I’m in Bhutan, my own land. Even in my dreams, I often pay frequent visits my native farmland.”

Farmers pick vegetables in their farm
Farmers pick vegetables in their farm

Leela Chhetri, a community gardener is so excited to be part of this farm. “I’m so happy that I once again got a chance to eat my own produces. I’m really happy I have small plot on my name where I can plant what I wish to grow.”

Shyam Thapa and his mother, Lalita Thapa, moved to the United States a month ago from Saatdobato in Lalitpur Nepal. He didn’t feel he would get a chance to work in a farm again in his life, but he was excited after he got an opportunity.

“I feel like I’m still in my hometown, still in my own farm with my neighbors when I see our ethnic crops even in this great land,” jubilant Thapa elaborates.

Meanwhile, Damanti Basnet and her fellow farmers sold African eggplants, hot pepper, spinach, okra and other ethnic and American food to local farmers market in 105 Concord Street from June through October.

“That was a real farming experience and I feel good about becoming a farmer again in the United States,” tells Chhetri.

Tika Basnet, a young community gardener operates a small plot of land provided to him by the Common Earth Farm.

“I come to the farm with my parents and have also learnt to farm, which to me adds knowledge and helps my parents pass the days. We usually drop them and pick up later to leaving them to work in the garden. The day my parents go to farm they return really happy”, Tika grins.

There are 15 Bhutanese families besides African American and American growers in the farm.

Volunteer Nicole collects the unwanted pipes from the farm
Nicole Mayer removes unwanted pipes

Nicole Mayer, who has been volunteering in the farm with Bhutanese families, explains that she is blessed to work with them.

“They are so helpful. They are happy people. They are extremely hard working, and I salute these people,” tells she as she praises her farmer friends.

Another lead volunteer, Jessey Bryan, was very excited to be part of the growers. “I learnt many things from Bhutanese farmer; they are awesome people, so friendly and helpful. I have enjoyed working with them.”

 Farmer Khada Niroula is always happy to come to the farm.

“It was hard for me to pass the days and my doctor suggests me to do some exercise. With the help of my sons, I got a chance to be in farm. They do all works. I just come here, water plants and pick up grasses. I feel like I’m doing exercise,” Niroula explains.

“Our common earth stood second position in display in Deerfield fair 2015 and I’m so happy to work with these Bhutanese farmers. I hope I will be working with these farmers in coming days too,” Gail Prince, the proprietor of farm, tells this reporter.

Gail Prince, proprietor of the Common Earth Farm, engages herself in taking pictures of some of the produces
Gail Prince, proprietor of the Common Earth Farm, engages herself in taking pictures of some of the produces

“I would like to thank all the volunteers, farmers their family, donors, customers, our supporters and well-wishers and community organization for their wonderful help. We are doing it because you are there.”

The diversity is added to this level of farming, as seen clearly when the Bhutanese people easily integrated in this greater community.

According to a farmer, who asked me not to named him, the proprietor is very helpful and kind to the farmers.

“All these years, the Bhutanese farmers have turned the grassy urban land to productive farmland and added fresh food to the kitchen of their customers as well,” claims this person.

Ed: All photos used in this post are taken by the author for BNS.

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