Healthy Food Begins with Community


| 9/14/2016 2:07:00 PM


 

Photo by Jenny Nelson. Courtesy of Maine Farmland Trust

A group of Somali Bantu refugees have started a cooperative farm in Maine, whole continents away from where they were born. They’ve traveled treacherous terrain and faced down threats that could have taken their lives. Thousands of miles from Somalia, on 30 acres in Maine’s second-largest city, they’ve begun to feel like they’ve come home.

New Roots Cooperative Farm, though just recently started by four new Americans, is already a success story. Combine the complexities of farming with the uncertainty of navigating a system that is unfamiliar — and, at times, unfriendly — to newcomers and you’ll understand just a fraction of how far New Roots has already come. They’re inspired to help one another and the community, too.

“Our aim is not only to grow food and run a business ourselves but to help our community and teach them about how to run a business,” says New Roots farmer Batula Ismail.



New Roots is a cooperative — the four co-owners work together to share land, markets, infrastructure, and resources — and they are demonstrating for other immigrant farmers that their co-op model is best for meeting their needs and building community.



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