Training and Empowering
New Roots is a four-year training program that began in 2008 as a collaboration between Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and Cultivate KC. Both organizations work to provide farmer training and market support at the Juniper Gardens Training Farm to help farmers develop and maintain small businesses after graduation.
For over a decade, New Roots has empowered families to start farm businesses by growing and selling produce through farmer’s markets, wholesale and the New Roots Farm Share. At the Juniper Gardens Training Farm, farmers are given a quarter-acre plot to grow vegetables such as tomatoes, beets, spinach, green onions, lettuce, eggplants and more. Farmers bring agricultural expertise from their home country and continue to learn more about growing sustainably in the Midwestern climate.
New Roots is designed to remove the initial barriers to start a small business. These include systemic challenges like economic mobility, language, networking and access to education and support. Divided between the growing season and winter classes, farmers at the New Roots program are involved year-round. Staff provide lessons in English and weekly farming workshops in the off-
season to sharpen farmers’ skills in growing in the Midwest and developing a small business.
Over four-years, farmers are assisted with crop planning, farm troubleshooting, farming equipment, business finance, record-keeping, markets applications and customer recruitment. Each year, the program passes more responsibilities to each farmer to maintain their business. By the fourth year, farmers have taken on the totality of the business expenses and gained practice in maintaining their customer base.
Since 2008, New Roots has had over 45 farmers graduate from the program, 31 of whom still operate a farm business today. You can support New Roots farmers at a local farmers market, restaurant or by subscribing to our Farm Share program.
Everything grown at the Juniper Gardens Training Farm abides by strict organic principles. We are committed to creating a sustainable, healthy food system and never use genetically modified or treated seeds, synthetic fertilizers, chemical pesticides or anything else that is forbidden on certified organic farms. 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.
Our Growing Principles
Our farmers agree to:
Build Healthy Soil
Use farming practices such as crop rotation, cover-cropping, natural mulching and composting and manual removal of weeds.
Follow USDA Organic Guidelines
Only use inputs approved on the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) List of Accepted and Prohibited Substances
Practice Food Safety
Maintain safety and nutritional value by using potable water for crop washing, sanitizing washing and storage areas and making use of cold storage as needed.
Reduce Losses to Pests
Mitigate pest damage through crop rotation and diversity, the use of row cover, encouraging presence of beneficial insects and using USDA organic-approved pest controls.
New Roots acknowledges that the land on which we grow is the cultural inheritance of the Kickapoo, Kaw/Kansa and Osage tribes. As a program that supports displaced peoples, we recognize the initial forced removal of Native peoples from these lands. We honor the Native peoples who came before us and honor the excellence of the Native community today. We ask for accountability and we strive to be good stewards of this land as we foster systems of love, justice and equity.