Abdi Haji dug through his basket of eggplants in his booth at the Capital City Public Market to find me these two luscious, deep purple beauties. With a broad smile, he told me he picked them that very morning. Abdi made the effort to find these particular vegetables once he understood my rambling explanation of using them as subjects for an oil painting.
Buying locally grown produce for my still life paintings adds an extra layer of meaning for me. Supporting local producers means keeping funds in our community and often benefits refugees. Abdi, a Somalian refugee, owns Umoja Na Uhuru World Farm and has sold produce at Boise's longstanding public market for three years.
Many refugees come to Boise through Idaho state programs, the top five countries being Iraq, Congo, Bhutan, Burma, and Somalia (see Idaho Office for Refugees for more information). An abrupt relocation often means they arrive not speaking English and with few possessions. Organizations like Global Gardens and Create Common Good offer agricultural-based programs to help refugees transition to a sustainable life here.