Mariamu Haji is part of a farming-focused non-profit called Global Gardens which encourages farmer participation at the Capital City Public Market. “Global Gardens is a program of the Idaho Office for Refugees. We strive to involve diverse families in healthy lifestyles and entrepreneurial training. We do so through the cultivation, harvest, cooking, eating, and sales of fresh, healthy [chemical-free] produce. We connect the food needs of diverse families with resources to grow and market food.”
Mariamu and her husband Noor were born and raised in Somalia but were forced to move to Kenya after the war started. They have lived in the United States for eleven years and have lived in Boise for nine of those years with a short stint of living in Kentucky. They have eight children and are ever grateful for the opportunities available to their children here. Both Mariamu and Noor were farmers in their home country of Somalia, though farming there was very different than farming is here. Noor says that farmers and gardeners led very poor lives in Somalia, and once the war started farmers were often forced to give away their food. They tell me all of the work was done by hand, including working the soil of massive plots of land and cutting down trees in the plots. Another huge difference is the readiness of water here which they did not experience before. When asked why they became involved with Global Gardens, they responded that they were farmers there, and they are farmers here. It is a part of who they are and a welcomed part of their livelihood from income to food source. Noor, who also has a full-time job at a nursing home, says his favorite vegetables to grow in the garden are spinach, kale, and cabbage. Mariamu’s favorites are carrots, radishes, lettuce mix and arugula. Gardening is a family effort for them and you will often find some of their children pitching in for Saturday Market harvesting. You can find them in front of Bittercreek on 8th Street.