Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Program Report

Friends,

Another year has passed so quickly and I can’t believe that I’m writing to you again. There is so much to report this year– new farmers, a huge increase in sales, our first program graduate, and a new community garden initiative.

There are so many stories of success that I’d like to share with you, this post is just a start! Your choice to buy your food from New Roots farmers and support this program is making a huge impact- both in the lives of refugee families and the future of the food system in Kansas City.

THANK YOU for your generosity.


In the winter of 2010, we welcomed four new farmers to the training farm.
Maku is our first farmer from Bhutan, and Ma Than, Mary Mi, and San Dar Myint are from Burma. During the 2011 season, there were 17 farmers growing at Juniper Gardens.

Throughout the year, program staff held 14 workshops focused on financial literacy. Farmers opened bank accounts, made deposits and withdrawals, and learned to write their own checks. Although many New Roots farmers have experience selling, the level of record keeping and financial awareness necessary to operate a farm business in the US is new and challenging.
Nyakang using the tiller in her plot for the first time.

Seventeen workshops focused on production and marketing. Workshops are hands-on, in the field when possible. Farmers learn about cultivation in Kansas,
tools and machinery, and the basics of marketing– setting up stalls and writing price signs. For most of our farmers, writing signage is overwhelming and takes lots of practice.





In a very difficult growing season, New Roots farmers grew their businesses, selling at 8 weekly markets throughout Kansas City. In 2010, total sales at the farm were just over $60,000. In 2011, this number grew to $103,000. Farmers are cultivating more healthy soil, learning to produce better product, and increasing their marketing skills.

 The Juniper Gardens Farmers’ Market exploded this year; farmers sold over $25,000 worth of vegetables to customers using food stamps. There was commonly a line of over 20 people waiting to use their benefits and have them doubled! Most of the customers are refugees from Burma who come to buy lemony greens, hot peppers, lemongrass and blue pumpkins. 



Lay Htoo and family at the “All American Title”
Company after signing papers.


Since the beginning of the training farm, we have been preparing graduates to move off onto their own land. This year was our first year to help a farmer through this process. In September, farmer Lay Htoo purchased her own home in Kansas City, Kansas on nearly an acre.

Move in day!

 
 Lay Htoo has worked incredibly hard, and is bubbling over with happiness. The entire down payment was made with money she saved from selling at the Overland Park Farmers’Market, and she diligently studied credit, interests and loans during our workshops. She is in the process of moving her production off of the training farm and into her backyard.

 



Program staff and members of the Chin community visit
a possible garden site. 
Since the inception of the training farm, we have heard from many refugee families that are
desperate to be outside growing their own food, but cannot commit the time to running a farm business. In response, we’re working with three refugee communities to develop their own community gardens. The Bhutanese Community of Kansas, Somali Bantu Foundation of Kansas and Chin Community are dreaming of what these gardens can be– a place for the adults to teach their children about growing the foods of their motherland while planting real roots in Kansas.

We can’t wait to see what the next year brings.


Will you join us in our mission?
There are lots of ways to help New Roots.

1. Give
We need money for salaries! It’s been easier to raise money for tools and supplies and harder to find grantors willing to pay for staff costs. Can you help us? Please send tax-deductible checks written to Catholic Charities with New Roots in the memo to:
Catholic Charities
Rachel Pollock
2220 Central Ave.
Kansas City, KS 66102
Or give online.

2. Shop
New Roots farmers rely on your business. Thanks for shopping with us at your local farmers’ market, joining our CSA, and spreading the word!

3. Time
Come volunteer at the farm, the office, during an ESL class or teach a farmer to drive! We're currently looking for volunteers to help out with watching kids when their parents are in workshops on Monday afternoons and Wednesday mornings.

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