The Issue: Lack of Employment and Food Insecurity for Refugees
Refugees resettled by Catholic Charities to Kansas City, Kansas come from Iraq, Burma, and Bhutan. Many have fled crowded and diseased camps, arriving to America without access to housing, medical care, or employment. And those who found themselves in Juniper Gardens housing development have resettled into an underserved, marginalized community—a "food desert," where the closest grocery store is more than a mile away and a lack of infrastructure brings with it insufficient public transportation. The nearest food available is from four liquor stores and three corner stores, all of which carry snacks but no fruits or vegetables. Yet one thing Kansas City has plenty of, according to the Kansas City Star is land.
The Campaign: Equipping Refugees to Start Farms
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Cultivate Kansas City to help newly settled refugees establish careers as urban farmers. For every $430 raised, Cultivate Kansas City can provide seeds and plants to one new farmer in the Juniper Gardens Training Farm program.
The Juniper Gardens Training Farm works to help recently resettled refugees use their previous farming experience to start small organic urban farms. The four-year training program provides farmers with all the tools and supplies they need to start their own farms, as well as financial education and business training. Once they get started, participants sell the produce they grow at local markets to generate income, spread fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the city, and gain a sense of independence as small farmers. So far, the program has graduated nine refugee farmers from its eight-acre training farm.
Cultivate Kansas City
In the center of the Juniper Gardens public housing project, in the heart of Kansas City, Kansas, sits an 8-acre farm. Every day, refugees from Burma, Iraq, and Bhutan work quarter-acre plots to grow radishes, potatoes, and herbs, according to an article in the Pitch. But their time in the fields is just one aspect of their journey. Biweekly, they attend problem-solving sessions where they communicate in agriculture shorthand and work with seed packets labeled with pictures. They also attend workshops on organic techniques, small-business management, marketing, and record keeping. After completing the training program, these farmers have the skills to earn meaningful income and have healthy food for their families.
But Cultivate Kansas City has goals larger than this plot. The organization encourages urban farming as a way to grow and deliver fresh produce to neighborhoods throughout the city. It works with many partners to support urban food production and runs the Gibbs Road and the Juniper local vegetable farms to get produce out to the neighborhoods.
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