The 2016 growing season marks Khudaidah’s third year gardening in a plot with Community Crops. His first year, he had a plot in Peter Pan Park, but since then he has been gardening in Antelope Community Garden, which is located near his home. As a resident of Lincoln since 2011, Khudaidah values the opportunity to grow food for his family in the garden plots, especially since he does not have the space at his home for a garden.In Iraq, Khudaidah farmed for many years, with his father farming before him. He attended college in Mosul, studying agriculture despite his desire to study math: “I didn’t want to attend agriculture,” Khudaidah relates, “but there was no choice. You can’t choose what you want back in Iraq.” Now that he is in the United States, and applying for his citizenship in a few months, Khudaidah is taking classes at Southeast Community College with the hopes of becoming a math teacher. However, he utilizes all of the knowledge gained from his father and from studying agriculture in Iraq to try to grow food in his garden plot.
You live in some area for 30 years and then you move to another area that’s totally different. You’re going to find many things difficult.
Khudaidah admits to having some difficulty getting the plants to grow in his plot. He suspects the soil is different than the soil in Iraq, which most likely contributes to his difficulties. “This year I did not get enough for myself,” Khudaidah confesses, “except chard. We gave it to many of our neighbors. It was good, the chard.” Khudaidah most misses growing pomegranates, which were abundant in his region in Iraq. Not only are they delicious, but they also have a number of health benefits that are not found in other fruits that can be grown in Lincoln.
Back in Iraq, our people were living like a second class, or maybe even not second, a third, fourth.
While in a lot of ways Khudaidah feels satisfied living in Lincoln, he acknowledges that the transition has been difficult. “It’s hard,” Khudaidah relates. “You live in some area for 30 years and then you move to another area that’s totally different. You’re going to find many things difficult. But at least it’s very good for our kids. Our kids are safe. So for me, I’m not that happy, but I’m happy for my kids because they are safe.” Coming from a place where Yazidis are “living like a second class, or maybe even not second, but a third, fourth,” Khudaidah feels welcome within the Lincoln community and hopes to continue gardening with more success in his plot with Community Crops.