On Wednesdays they have a green market set up in the parking lot at my work. There are a couple of vendors there who are conventional farmers or produce distributors but there are always a couple who are part of a program called New Roots for Refugees.
I always try to spread my money among all the vendors (there are generally only five or so who show up; my work isn’t known for being interested in organic, locally grown food options) but I have to give the New Roots for Refugees farmers some business. These farmers have all come to the United States from other countries in order to start a new life for themselves and their families. Many of them were farmers in the countries they left, but trying to start a farm, even a small one, in the US is expensive stuff. Two organizations, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas and Cultivate KC, have partnered to help these women by teaching them about crops that grow well in this climate, giving them access to a 1/4 acre of land on which to farm, and a marketplace in which to sell their produce. I often find myself over-buying because I want to buy something from each of these vendors. This year each farmer has a card with a brief bio and a map of the world with their home country printed in red. I loved reading about the women who grew my kale and my cabbage. As much as I want to supply my family with food from our own backyard, I think I’ll always try and support farmers like them.
Another awesome thing about this program: the land they use to farm is located within a housing project and they let the residents have access to a plot of land as well. It’s such a win-win situation. There aren’t a lot of forward thinkers in this community that I’m exposed to, but projects like this give me hope.