12/06/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/06/2021 11:21
Dec 06, 2021
Refugee and immigrant farmers newly arrived in Vermont are getting help from USDA to continue their agrarian traditions and learn about Vermont soils and growing conditions.
In 2020, USDA awarded approximately $4.1 million in grants and cooperative agreements through its new Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production. The Association of Africans Living in Vermont (AALV) received a grant to enhance urban agriculture through AALV's refugee and immigrant agriculture program. New Farms for New Americans: Improving Lands, Improving Lives was implemented in 2020 and currently provides 90 garden plots to approximately 80 households on seven acres of leased land in Burlington, Vermont.
The project builds upon an existing garden/farm infrastructure by implementing a 28-week agriculture program that begins in the program's greenhouse, transitions to the farm for the summer and ends with garlic planting in the fall. In partnership with the Vermont Community Garden Network, the class and overall project anticipates reaching over 300 community members from five different ethnic communities speaking a minimum of seven languages.
New Farms for New Americans has spent the last year focusing on implementing an advanced garden curriculum, building nutrition education that is inclusive of traditional diets and knowledge, creating a class curriculum and handbook that is appropriate for students with a range of English language proficiency, and building a leadership component that incorporates farmers into the process of disseminating knowledge learned in class.
The New Farms for New Americans project also benefits NRCS staff as they learn best practices for cultural and linguistic considerations to improve outreach targeted to the demographics of the participants in the program.