After fleeing from war, famine, discrimination or other adversities, refugees come to the United States in search of better lives. However, finding jobs and assimilating into the American culture can prove difficult and degrading. Cultivate Kansas City supports refugees by helping them grow food, farms and communities. One of their many programs, New Roots for Refugees, provides land and technical farmer training to refugee women so that they can start their own farm businesses and generate income for their families.
Sar Mu Na, a refugee from Burma, worked with Cultivate Kansas City to start her own farm. She grows a wide variety of crops—from those familiar to U.S. customers to those unique to Burma. When asked about the importance of Cultivate Kansas City, she replied with the following list of benefits in her native language Karen, translated below.
- You help us understand how to organize farming.
- Anytime we need help and ask for help you never complain or grumble about us.
- You tell us what plants to grow that will be profitable for us.
- Though we have small children, we can still manage our work at the farm well.
- We are able to speak and understand more English, and we get to know more people.
- Because we are farming for ourselves, we are able to eat organic vegetables that do not contain chemicals.
- Our children also learn about organic gardening. We get good physical exercise when doing our farm work and are able to breathe fresh air every day.
- We work, we sell our produce, and we receive money to spend on our daily expenditures. We can even share some of the produce with our friends for free.
Farm Aid grants to Cultivate Kansas City have helped 28 refugee families and neighborhood residents start independent farm businesses, generating an estimated $1,177,776 in economic impact. Last year, this resulted in 198,000 pounds of organically grown produce distributed throughout Kansas City, primarily to underserved and low-income communities. “Farm Aid provides essential financial support to train farmers who love the land.”