Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Immigrant and refugee families helping to save small farming in U.S.

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 14, 2012

Some refugee population groups entering the US come from a long tradition of farming and may wish to continue farming as a way to earn a living. Refugees from Myanmar and Hmong refugees, mainly from Cambodia, are two groups that come to mind. The National Immigrant Farming Initiative is helping immigrants and refugees with a penchant for farming to apply those skills in the US by teaching them about our growing season, crops, prices, regulations, where and how to sell, how to connect with markets and government farm support programs. This is apparently not only a way for refugees to help them keep up their agrarian practices, but is also a way of avoiding the poverty trap for those with little English and a lack of American workplace skills. An article in Twin Cities Daily Planet has more:

He was born in mountainous Cambodia and dreamed of owning a farm. She was born to the far-reaching plains of the Midwest and flourished in an urban setting of coffee shops and poetry readings.

Now, immigrant Proeun and Amy Doeun are married, have four children, a herd of goats and 85 chickens as well as their own 40-acre farm in Rush City. That’s thanks in large part to the Minnesota Food Association, a farm entrepreneurship program she calls “our alma mater.’’

That program is but one of many to be highlighted at an upcoming national conference with a title as long and as self-explanatory as many a non-fiction book.

Grassroots and Groundwork: Working Together to Reduce Poverty and Build Prosperity”…

…The need for such agricultural training appeared as Minnesota experienced a “huge and steady influx of immigrants from other countries, many of them from agrarian societies and they would like to know how can I farm in Minnesota,’’ Hill explains. The program teaches about the growing season here, crops, prices, regulations, where and how to sell, how to connect with markets and government farm support programs, he says.

The state group is a member of the National Immigrant Farming Initiative, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., supporting immigrants who don’t have the capital or knowhow or don’t understand the American agricultural system or have limited English, explains the group’s Executive Director Rigoberto Delgado. He will also speak at the conference.

Delgado says immigrants are replacing the disappearing American family farmer, pointing out that the number of Latino farmers in the United States grew 14 percent between 2002 and 2007.

They come with the American dream and a penchant for farming. We are like the doorway for immigrants and refugees to find their way,’’ says Delgado… Read more here

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