Back in 2005, an IRC staff member was talking to Somali women about job options for them in The United States. Many of them were saying “We want to farm! Is there a place that we can grow food? Maybe we can make money that way!” So, the idea of New Roots program was born. IRC staff helped the women transform a 2.3-acre vacant lot into a vegetable garden in San Diego, and The New Roots program has since expanded to 12 other cities, and Small Axe Peppers partners with 7 of them including San Diego, Tucson, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Charlottesville, and The Bronx.
For example, in Charlottesville, The IRC resettles approximately 250 people in the Charlottesville area each year. On a small 8-acre farm, refugees from countries like Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, Ethiopia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Colombia have the opportunity to grow produce for their homes and to sell peppers to Small Axe Peppers.
Small Axe Peppers empower newly settled refugee to earn income through farming. This year, Small Axe Peppers donated 2800 seeds to its partner New Roots Sites and expects to source 10,000 pounds of peppers from these gardens in 2018.