New Farms for New Americans
By Hannah Morrison, Intervale Center intern This past week I was given the amazing opportunity to walk down to two farms that rent land from the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont and meet the farmers who maintain the land there. As I walked the short distance through the tree-lined trails behind the building where I usually do my work, alongside my co-workers and members of the Intervale Center Board of Directors, to the farm, I wondered what to expect. We ended up visiting two farms, the New Farms for New Americans (NFNA) plot of land, as well as the Intervale Community Farm.
A truly amazing concept, New Farms for New Americans is a program started in Burlington, Vermont where refugees originally from locations throughout Africa and Asia are given plots of land to use for farming food native to their homelands. It is said that since 1989 over 63,000 refugees have settled in Vermont, and this program allows those families to continue growing and eating their traditional foods here in the United States, while also selling their produce to provide for their families.
With a mission to help refugees and immigrants continue to practice their agrarian traditions through the production of culturally significant crop, New Farms for New Americans also allows the refugees to teach and inform others in all parts of Vermont, and the country for that matter, about new crops we may have never heard of, or eaten, and about different ways to harvest and preserve foods.
It was such a great experience to talk with and hear from the handful of farmers working down at the New Farms for New Americans land. They were all so welcoming and friendly, and luckily, we had a translator stop by to help make communication a little easier. There we spoke mostly with a farmer by the name of Francois. A Burundi farmer, who speaks mostly French and very little English, Francois explained to us how their farm works, what they grow and where they sell their products in town.
I work at City Market as well as interning at the Intervale Center, and it was great to see where our products come from. Being able to meet Francois in person was an eye-opening experience for me. Now every time I’m in back of house working at City Market and we get a delivery from New Farms from New American’s, I think of Francois!
Located across from Intervale Community Farm in Burlington, anyone and everyone interested in learning more about NFNA is welcomed and encouraged to come down to the farm, meet with the farmers themselves and learn more about the projects that are taking place there. Also, be sure to look for the produce grown from these “new farmers” at City Market, just downtown!