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Hy-Vee Lends Land For Garden



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A Sioux Falls Hy-Vee store is giving back to a community of refugees and immigrants a very special part of their traditions. The grocery store has teamed up with the Somali-Bantu Community to make good use out of some unused land.

Eight families from three different African countries are coming together to dig, plant and add a little more life to a once empty field. It’s all because James Siemens, Hy-Vee’s Store Director on East 10th Street, heard about their struggle.
 
"Abdull just talked about their need for gardening. That's what they know, gardening. And so I knew we had this open lot that we can't do anything with,” said Siemens.

On Saturday, Hy-Vee and James made it all possible. Five raised bed gardens were built on the unused land on the western side of the grocery store. Abdull Sidow, the Executive Director of the Somali-Bantu Community, said these gardens will make the families feel a little more at home.

“To have the opportunity to use the experiences and skills they have from their own countries,” said Sidow.

Sidow said in Africa their people farmed for a living. But when they moved here, they didn’t have the resources. Felicite Kiza, from the Central African country of Burundi, said being able to grow her own food is not only exciting, but it will help her family save a lot of money.
     
“It's very hard to get vegetables here. It's very expensive if you go buy a tomato. It's very expensive,” Kiza said.

For others like 12-year-old Heri Kabwali from Congo, it’s simply about having a little dirt his family can call their own.

“In Africa we worked so hard. And when we came here we didn't have a place to plant vegetables. So I thank them, for letting us plant them and do this,” said Kabwali.

Now that the gardens are planted, it’s time to give to vegetables a little tender loving care, so they can finally plan for the future.

“If we can get twelve across and maybe ten deep, we could have 120 gardens in this spot,” said Siemens.

Whatever produce the families chose not to keep for themselves, Hy-Vee will buy and sell in the store.

For more information, or if you wish to donate, you can call the Somali-Bantu Community Development Councils of South Dakota at (605) 271-6118.
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