Archive for May, 2010

Tools and Technology

Since 2007, 60 Burundians moved into the greater Seattle area, which includes families that were settled by Lutheran Relief Services in the Everett area and families settled by the International Refugee Committee in Tukwila.  These were the first Burundi refugees to settle in King County and share their stories of living in the refugee camps since 1972.

Another memory of their time in the refugee camps from Augustine:

IN REFUGEE CAMPS, I STARTED FARMING WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM ANYONE. USING MY IDEAS, INTELLIGENT, I DEVELOP MYSELF, WORKING HARD BECAUSE I HAD NO RELATIVES. TIME BY THE TIME, I FARMED A GROUP OF TEN WHO DO NOT HAVE RELATIVES, AND WE DID GOOD JOB… EVERYONE BOUGHT A BIKE, AND FEED HIS FAMILY, PAY SCHOOL FEES FOR OUR KIDS. STARTING IS HARD, BUT SLOWLY, YOU REACH WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. AFTER THIS GROUP OF TEN PEOPLE, OTHERS CAME AND A BIG GROUP OF FARMERS IS FORMED, UNTIL WE GOT A HELP FROM CANADA.  ALL ACTIVITIES WERE DONE BY HANDS AND THERE WAS NO GOOD TECHNOLOGY APPLICABLE WE USED. THAT IS WHY, HERE IN USA, SEE HOW THE TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCED, AND HOW MODERN TOOLS ARE, WE HOPE TO SUCCESS.

Right now, with seeds in the ground, the farmers continue to explore the balance of using their African farm knowledge and American tools and soil.

Alternating Seedling Starts

The farmers have learned to use their tractor to prepare the soil and have purchased a mechanical seeder to do direct seeding.  This year is the first time for many of them to use a greenhouse to start plants for transplanting because they were not needed in Africa.  But within these greenhouses, they are integrating their own techniques, starting seeds right in the soil and alternating crops to get the most use of their space.  This farm is an incredible learning opportunity for everyone involved.

Transplanting and Documenting the steps; Francis Zera

Finally, we want to welcome Francis Zera into our community.  He is a Seattle-based professional photographer that will be working with the farmers this growing season, helping document the growth of the farm and provide photographs that we can use in our promotional material.  Thank you so much for your time and energy, Francis!

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Interview with Mohamed Rago

Mohamed and three of his kids exploring the greenhouse

Interview on   27 April 2010

Lydia Caudill: L

Mohamed Rago: M

L:         What is your name?

M:        My name is Mohamed Rago.

L:         Were you a farmer in Somalia?

M:        Yes, I was a farmer when I was 8 years. Up till now.  I like to farm.

L:         What do you like to farm?

M:        I like to farm a lot of things: bananas, mangos, ah what do you call them?  I

Mohamed and baby onions

don’t remember some of the names in English, a lot of things!  Like beets and onions, a lot of things.  We know how to farm.  And how do you call them?  Squash and watermelon and zucchini.  And a lot of things, I don’t remember the names.

L:         When did you come to the United States?

M:        2005, February 17th

L:         And why did you come to the United States?

M:        Because we don’t get no country, we are refugees, we don’t know nothing.

L:         You just said you don’t know anything, but you’ve been farming since you were 8!

M:        Yeah, I was farming since I was 8 years old.  I know about farming.  My dad and my mom, every day they going to the farm and I have to go with them, I have to see what they doing.  What they farm.  And then later on I became bigger, like 10 years old.  I was helping my dad and my mom farm.

L:         So what’s your favorite thing about farming?

M:        Corn, corn and mango.

L:         Sorry, no mangos here.

M:        Yeah, I know.

L:         Are you excited about this farm?

M:        Yes, I’m very excited

L:         Why are you excited?

M:        Because.  Our life in Somalia, Somali-Bantu farms, our lives was only farms.  We farm like onions, mangos, and then we got corn and then we take it out to the shop, somebody is buying.  We don’t know trade, we don’t know how to write, we know only this.  That is why we are excited.

L:         It’s good to be farming again?

M:        Yeah, I’m very, very, very excited.

L:         What do you hope for this year, do you hope to learn or….

M:        Actually, I’d like to learn American seeds.

L:         Oh, are they very different?

M:        They are very different, like beets, different, we didn’t have in Somalia.  We learn a lot of things in America.

L:         Is there anything else you’d like to say to everyone who is listening?

M:        Wow, just say, like everybody, nice to meet you, nice to talk to you, I’m a new farmer, in America, but I know how to farm.  Thank you, bye bye everybody.  Thank you, that’s it.