Portraits of Concord Diversity: Hari Adhikari is living her American dream 

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 09-18-2023 3:48 PM

Weaving her way through waist-high bushes and wildflowers, Hari Adhikari plucked a handful of blueberries and popped them into her mouth.

Her white tunic deflected the heat of the afternoon sun and she knotted her hair in a bun at the nape of her neck. A floppy hat shadowed her face as she squatted down to pluck a snap dragon plant from the dirt.

Bundling up the stalk, she moved on to harvest sunflowers, dahlias, daisies and an assortment of other wildflowers for the bouquets she sells at farmers markets around Concord and surrounding areas. The flowers she grows are harvested from farmland she rents and in Boscawen. The land represents the dream she had as a young girl living in Nepal.

“I really loved farming. I was so happy when I would go to my backyard to water the plants when my parents were working,” Adhikari said. “I never found anything like a wild adventure or working on a farm when the crops grow and harvesting all of the produce. I thought it was the life. I couldn’t wait to get back there and that’s how I found my joy in farming.”

A classical musician at heart, Adhikari’s music doesn’t hold the same weight in the United States like it did in Nepal and though she still plays and entertains, her heart and hands are with the earth.

“What I have found is such a passion. I never feel like I’m tired or doing work for anyone,” she said. “I love interacting with Mother Earth and the plants; they talk to me and it’s stress-free working on a farm for so long.”

She, her husband and her daughter struggled for a better life in Nepal and were given the opportunity to come to the United States in 2011.

The pair were musicians and lecturers at a university in Nepal where they were well respected. They enjoyed their life but were struggling to make money and to raise their daughter, she said. Their jobs were not permanent and her husband had to take on three additional jobs to make ends meet and still, it wasn’t enough.

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“We just weren’t making enough money to survive there and surviving is good but people really need their own vehicle and their own house, too, and the money wasn’t enough,” Adhikari said. “When we got the lottery we were like ‘oh my gosh, we are going to the richest country in the world’ and we were so happy.”

Like most immigrants and refugees that come to the United States, Adhikari and her family struggled with filling out the paperwork, learning English, applying for jobs and accessing public transportation. Adhikari did better than her husband, she said, due to the English courses she took while in college.

“Slowly, we started to find other Nepali families around Boston and some of our friends helped us get an apartment. We stayed in their living room for a week because we didn’t have a place to stay,” Adhikari said. “They helped us go to the grocery store and after nine months, one of our music-lover friends found out about us and helped us move to Walpole before we came to Concord in 2014.”

The farming culture was intriguing to her, and much different than that of Boston and the suburbs. Quickly, she was taken in by both American and Nepali farmers to assist on their land, where she started to grow and pick her own greens before cultivating her own plot through the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success.

ORIS works with new Americans long term as they strive to learn English, find employment, understand American healthcare and banking systems and establish a new life for themselves in America.

With their help, Adhikari’s been able to tend to her farmland in Boscawen work alongside other refugees and immigrants from Concord and the surrounding areas, like Batulo Mahamed who owns Batulo’s Kitchen and is well known around Concord for serving delicious hand-held Somali meat and veggie pies. The farmers pay a monthly farm fee in exchange for free range of the farmland to plant, harvest and grow crops.

“[The land] is utilized by a lot of immigrants and refugees in Concord and we can plant whatever we want,” Adhikari said. “Blueberries, sunflowers, wildflowers, vegetables, fruits. I think we are so lucky and we get so much love and support here. It’s something I need in my life to make me happy.”

Editor’s note: All this week, the Monitor will publish a series of profiles to highlight the city’s growing community diversity in advance of Concord’s Multicultural Festival, held Sunday, Sept. 24 at Keach Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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