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Farming Sustains Refugee Families and Community
When refugees are forced to flee their countries, they arrive in the United States with very little. They have left behind relatives and friends; their home; and their jobs. What they bring with them, however, is often a great deal of agricultural expertise.
Catholic Charities, in partnership with Cultivate KC, began New Roots for Refugees, a program to help refugees put down new roots. New Roots builds on the strengths and experience that the refugees already possess, helping them start their own small farm businesses growing and selling vegetables. Farming is a familiar livelihood that offers them some measure of self-determination and self-sufficiency, healthy food for their families, extra income, and a way to contribute to their new communities.
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JUNIPER GARDENS TRAINING FARM
Currently, there are 16 refugee farmers growing at the New Roots nine-acre training farm, Juniper Gardens, located at 100 Richmond Avenue, Kansas City, KS 6601. Each has a quarter acre plot of land. On the farm, they learn the process and skills to farm, manage, market and sell produce which they grow with their own hands. Everything grown at the Juniper Gardens Training Farm abides by strict organic principles. Genetically modified or treated seeds, synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides, or anything else that is forbidden on certified organic farms are never used. Apart from annual tillage, and the use of small walk-behind tillers, New Roots farmers generally cultivate the earth relying primarily on their own physical strength rather than petroleum powered machinery.
The refugees’ home grown produce not only feeds their families, but is also sold at several local Farmers’ Markets, or through the Community Supported Agriculture Program (CSA).
As their farm businesses become established and they develop more skills, they move to greater financial and managerial independence. Eventually they are able to move onto their own land and operate independently.
New Roots CSA sign-ups for 2017 are now open! Please read the information below and check back here for the sign-up!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a unique model of direct farmer-to-consumer marketing where members build a partnership with one farmer. This gives the consumer (you!) a chance to interact more long-term with the person who is cultivating your food, and the farmer an expanded and reliable market for his/her produce. Both partners share in the risks and rewards of small-scale farming: weather, insect damage, and bumper crops.
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