Tuesday, September 21, 2010

We're growing up!

For the past three years, we have been guided by the dream of refugees operating their own small farms in Kansas City. When we started, we didn't know what we were doing or how to make it happen. Not that we had no foundation to build upon- refugee farmers posses significant experience, work ethic and will, KCCUA brings a city-wide network of farmers, resources and knowledge and Catholic Charities has been partnering with refugees for many years- but this was a new thing for us all. Each new phase of our life as a program has brought challenges and opportunities. Developing the urban incubator site (how many bricks can fit into 8 acres of soil!), building our CSA program, increasing food stamp accessibility, growing our ethnic crop availability, working with new populations, etc. Some phases have been more challenging than others, but they have all provided us with opportunities to learn from one another and work together.
We are now entering into yet another phase- moving some of our farmers onto their own independent sites. We are excited. We are overwhelmed. We can't wait. We are all dreaming together and pulling together all the ideas and resources that we've got.
A few weeks ago, some of the farmers took a field trip to a Hmong farm in KCK. The Hmong were resettled in Kansas City in the seventies and eighties, and now many are operating their own farms. It was a fantastic experience for all of us- opening our eyes to the possibilities and framing our conversation moving forward. Here are some photos from that day.

Yia, our gracious host, who has been in Kansas City for 30 years.

Beh Paw, excited about the dry land rice field, explains it all to Katherine.

Lay Htoo, Beh Paw and Yia communicate in their third language, Thai, that happens to be shared among them. Yia's innovative scarecrows.

Dena and Lay Htoo show me how to save seeds. Everyone was ecstatic to find many vegetables that they haven't seen since the Thai refugee camps.

Lay Htoo and Bay Htoo show the eggplants that are familiar to them. Thanks to Yia for being so generous with her harvest.

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