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Worcester’s Urban Farming Expands To Help New Refugees

Monday, February 18, 2013

 

For Worcester's many new Americans and refugees, one of the best ways to get a taste of home is whipping up a traditional meal made with homegrown fruits and vegetables. New Lands Farm, a program of Lutheran Social Services (LSS), is helping a number of such individuals do just that with its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in the Worcester area.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 new refugees arrive in Massachusetts each year from Africa and Asia, and many come with previous agricultural experience and skills. More than 500 of them are resettled in Worcester each year, and New Lands Farm is currently helping over 100 new American families feel more at home and thrive in their new communities by providing the resources and agricultural training to help them transition to the New England climate, soil and pests. New Lands teaches its farmers, who grow a variety of vegetables in community gardens and small farm plots of a quarter-acre or less, valuable business planning and marketing skills as well.

Having arrived in the United States just four years ago, farmer Valeria holds a separate job in addition to working the farm every day. “In Burundi,” she says, “I grew most of the same things that I grow here… but I didn't go to the market to sell. If people came to me and I needed money, I would sell vegetables to them. Now I have learned how to grow even more vegetables and sell them, too.”

Now, LSS and New Lands Farm are inviting Worcester area residents to join the farm as well. Members of New Lands Farm's CSA receive weekly portions of fresh produce from June to October, which can be picked up at the farm on Eight Lots Road in Sutton or in downtown Worcester. The entire farm is chemical-free, and the produce is grown by a collective of new American farmers who have resettled in Worcester from around the world.

CSA shares are available in two sizes: A “regular” share will provide enough produce for a family of 2 to 4 and is available for $450, and "small” shares suitable for 1 to 2 adults may be purchased for $300.

Members may pick up their shares on the farm in Sutton every Tuesday or at the EAT Center in downtown Worcester every Wednesday between 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. CSA pick-up will begin June 18 and continue through Oct. 16. Shares will be full of familiar vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and kale, and may also include a few “exotic” items such as mchicha, also known as callaloo, bitter gourds and African eggplants. Each comes accompanied by a traditional recipe from the farmer’s home.

Visit the New Lands Farm website to download a CSA membership form and sign up today. For more information about the CSA, other markets or volunteer opportunities, visit the website or contact Dan Gregory at dgregory@lssne.org or 508-754-1121. 

 

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