Her white jacket protected from the heat of the afternoon sun and she tied her hair into a bun at the nape of her neck. A floppy hat obscured her face as she squatted down to pull a dragon plant out of the dirt.
After she gathered the stem, she moved on to harvesting sunflowers, dahlias, chrysanthemums and a variety of other wildflowers for bouquets that she sells at farmers markets around Concord and surrounding areas. The flowers she grows are harvested from the farmland she leases and in Boscawen. The land represents a dream she had when she was a young girl living in Nepal.
“I really loved farming. I was very happy when I would go into my backyard to water the plants when my parents were working,” Adhikari said. “I never found anything like a wilderness adventure or working on a farm when the crops are growing and you harvest all the produce. I thought it was life. I couldn’t wait to get back there, and that’s how I found my happiness in farming.
Adhikari’s music, a classical musician, doesn’t have the same weight in the United States as it did in Nepal, and although she still plays and entertains, her heart and hands are with the land.
“What I found is such passion. I never feel like I’m tired or doing anyone’s work,” she said. “I love interacting with Mother Earth and the plants; They talked to me and working on the farm was stress free for a long time.
She, her husband, and her daughter fought for a better life in Nepal and had the opportunity to come to the United States in 2011.
The couple were musicians and lecturers at a university in Nepal where they were highly respected. She said they enjoyed their lives but were struggling to earn money and raise their daughter. Their jobs were not permanent and her husband had to take on three additional jobs to make ends meet, however, that was not enough.
“We were not making enough money to survive there,” Adhikari said. “Survival is good, but people really need their own cars and their own homes as well, and the money was not enough.” “When we got the lottery we said: ‘Oh my God, we are going to the richest country in the world’ and we were so happy.”
Like most immigrants and refugees who come to the United States, Adhikari and her family struggled to fill out paperwork, learn English, apply for jobs, and access public transportation. She said Adhikari performed better than her husband because of the English courses she took while in college.
“Slowly, we started finding other Nepali families around Boston and helped some of our friends get an apartment. “We stayed in their living room for a week because we had nowhere to stay,” Adhikari said. “They helped us go to the grocery store; Nine months later, one of our music-loving friends found out about us and helped us move to Walpole before we came to Concord in 2014.”
The agricultural culture was interesting to her, and very different from that of Boston and its suburbs. She was soon welcomed by American and Nepalese farmers to help with their land, where she began growing and picking greens before planting her own plot of land through the Refugee and Immigrant Success Organization.
ORIS works with new Americans long-term as they strive to learn English, find work, understand American health care and banking systems and create a new life for themselves in America.
With their help, Adhikari has been able to tend her farm in Boscawen and work alongside other refugees and migrants from Concord and surrounding areas, like Patolo Mohamed, who owns Patolo Restaurant and is known in Concord for serving delicious Somali meat and vegetables. Pies. Farmers pay a monthly agricultural fee in exchange for free range of farmland to plant, harvest and grow crops.
“(The land) is used by a lot of immigrants and refugees in Concord and we can grow whatever we want,” Adhikari said. “Berries, sunflowers, wildflowers, vegetables and fruits. I think we are very lucky and we get a lot of love and support here. It’s something I need in my life to make me happy.”
Editor’s Note: Throughout this week, the Monitor will publish a series of profiles highlighting the city’s growing community diversity ahead of the Concord Multicultural Festival, which will be held Sunday, September 24, at Ketch Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.