- Category: Blog
- Published: Monday, 21 March 2016 21:20
- Written by Jack Wilbur
- Hits: 1400
Refugees putting down new agricultural roots in Utah
Members of Utah’s refugee populations who have gardening or farming backgrounds are getting a chance to put those skills to use and help provide for their
families, thanks to the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and a USDA Specialty Crops grant, administered by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF).
“The New Roots Farm is an agricultural program that focuses on immigrants and refugees,” said Grace Henley, Food Enterprise Program Manager, IRC. Approximately 25 families farm the plot of land IRC leases from Salt Lake County near 3900 South and 700 West. The IRC recently received a second grants from the Specialty Crop fund to continue the work started in fiscal year 2015.
Photo by Jeri Gravlin
“When we first applied for Specialty Crop funding, we wanted money for staff and supplies to make a more intentional effort at helping refugee and immigrant families farm,” said Henley. “We Chose 10 crops to grow based on what farmers wanted to grow and what ethnic produce consumers wanted to buy.”
The crops were Asian and African produce. Along with the land to grow the crops, the IRC started a Saturday Farmers market and a farm stand to provide a distribution method for the produce. Finally, staff members created an ethnic specialty crop manual and catalog, so other interested growers could benefit from the work and research the IRC and the refugee farmers did.
For 2016, Immigrant and refugee farmers will be experimenting with Latino specialty crops.
Illustration by Laurel Hunter
Indian Bitter Melon