Fresh International Gardens (FIG) is a refugee-run farming co-op, run by Catholic Social Services Refugee Assistance and Immigration Services (RAIS).
The FIG co-op has been building healthy refugee communities since 2007 by helping new Alaskans develop English-language and small business skills, access fresh vegetables, and earn supplemental income. 100% of FIG earnings are paid out directly to FIG gardeners. FIG promotes a healthy working and learning environment where everyone has a role to play and can bring their gifts to the co-op. The core focus of FIG is to promote wellbeing in refugee communities.
FIG works on several farming plots around Anchorage, including the Global Garden plot at Grow North Farm, where RAIS clients learn how to be part of a small food-based business. Some FIG gardeners go on to launch their own businesses on other Grow North Farm plots, combining FIG’s agricultural expertise with Grow North Farm’s business development and infrastructure, made possible by a partnership between CSS/RAIS and Anchorage Community Land Trust.
How Can You Support FIG?
What Does FIG Provide?
FIG provides support and opportunity to gardeners and their families, and those benefits impact our larger refugee community as a whole here in Alaska. Specifically, FIG provides:
Many FIG gardeners have other jobs and participate in the program on their days off or before/after work. Others have barriers to enter the traditional workforce and this is their only source of income. FIG is accessible for all: parents with young children, elders, new arrivals without prior work experience.
Whether a refugee arrives with higher education and a long work history or no practical work experience, finding employment can be difficult. FIG provides refugees with a low-barrier employment opportunity where gardeners build their English-language and business skills in a supportive setting.
Many refugees come to the U.S. with prior growing experience, but need help fitting that knowledge to our colder environment. FIG teaches them how to grow food that thrives in Alaska, while also finding ways to grow culturally relevant foods that they are already familiar with.
Health and Wellbeing
In the summer, FIG gives people a chance to work outside on a community project. In the winter, FIG clients attend field trips, health fairs, cooking classes, and gardening workshops to keep people engaged and active, building relationships with each other, volunteers, and community members.
Path to Business Ownership
Grow North Farm is an urban farm in Mountain View for emerging food-based businesses. The FIG program helps guide clients on the path towards small business ownership at GNF if they express interest in starting their own business.
What is Grow North Farm?
Grow North Farm is a partnership between Catholic Social Services and Anchorage Community Land Trust (ACLT).
Along with refugee resettlement, CSS/RAIS provide the funding, education, and agricultural expertise for our FIG gardeners. As our partner, ACLT provides FIG gardeners with the Global Garden plot at Grow North Farm, storage and packaging facilities for produce, and their business development expertise.
In addition, Grow North Farm provides FIG gardeners a place to expand, launch their own businesses, and collaborate with other farmers after they have graduated through the FIG program. Nearly all the business owners operating at Grow North Farm were resettled by CSS/RAIS and trained through FIG.
Our partnership with ACLT at Grow North Farm opens new possibilities for launching FIG businesses, selling FIG products, and giving our gardeners even more opportunities to expand and succeed as Anchorage business owners.
Thank you, ACLT!