Sikinika Speaks

Kneeled over a bed of spent arugula, wearing socks and flip-flops, Sikinika recounted her nightmare. She dreamt that someone was following her, and trying to kill her. With a surprising sense of lightness, she told me that back in Haiti, her immediate family was murdered in her home. She found them there when she returned from her Grandmother’s house, where she had spent the weekend. Soon after, Sikinika fled to the U.S to seek asylum, and was referred to RIF by African Services. We now found ourselves, together, knees in the soil, pulling an arugula bed and discussing a tragedy beyond words.

To those of us listening, the source of Sikinika’s dreams and subsequent fears were clear. But Sikinika didn’t cry, or cease her work. Sikinika was a nurse back home, often serving in the Obstetrics unit: assisting in birth and treating children.

In the way she told her story, and in her overall demeanor, Sikinika displayed a wondrous duality of juvenescence and wisdom that made her enduringly fun to be around, and a stellar farmer.

This winter, when her season of training at Brooklyn Grange came to an end, Sikinika was finally granted work authorization! Soon after, she was hired by Gotham Greens (GG), NYC’s leading producer of premium-quality, greenhouse-grown vegetables and herbs. GG’s operation is completely pesticide free, and all produce is grown using ecologically sustainable methods. Honing the urban agriculture training she received at Brooklyn Grange during her Urban Farm Recovery Fellowship, Sikinika is now contributing to the thriving GG greenhouse atop Whole Foods Gowanus.

When I visited her a few weeks ago, she proudly led me on a tour of the facility, and we discussed the differences and similarities between hydroponic and soil farming.

She beamed especially bright when introducing me to her coworkers and friends, and I could tell that she felt at home amidst the greens, and the busied hands with smiling faces.

Sikinika was recently granted asylum! We wish her a big congratulations, and we thank her for allowing us to share her tragic, but inspiring story.

With her permission, we refer to her here by her lost sister’s name, Sikinika.