Refugee Resettlement: Burundian Farmer Makes New England Blossom

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Refugee FarmingIn addition to the recent interview with New Lands Farm staff, I’d like to lift up the voices and experiences of a few of the refugee farmers who have found empowerment through the program.  Here are the thoughts of Valeria, who came to Worcester, MA from Burundi four years ago.

What did you farm in Burundi?

Valeria: In Burundi, I grew most of the same things that I grow here: eggplant, onion, cabbage, carrots, peppers, beans, corn, and more. I didn’t go to the market to sell, but if people came to me and I needed money, I would sell vegetables to them.

Who taught you how to grow food?

V: I have always farmed. At home, I helped land owners plant rows of trees, and in exchange they gave me seeds and land to grow on.

Where do you buy food for your family?

V: I bring home vegetables from the farm to cook for my children, and I shop at Compare Foods on Main Street.

What have you learned from this program?

V: I have learned how to grow tomatoes. In my home country, I didn’t like to plant them because they would become diseased and didn’t grow. Here, they grow well!

Valeria’s crops have been hugely successful so far. Living Earth’s Natural Food Store in Worcester has eagerly bought bunches and bunches of her hearty Swiss chard and collards!

This interview was conducted by NLF staff and originally appeared in the June 2012 newsletter.

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