Background Dirt

The Refugee Farmer Project is in its second year as an initiative of Burst for Prosperity.  The purpose is to give local refugees a means to develop their own financial security, build assets, and further connect with their larger community.

This year, Somali-Bantu and Burundi refugee farmers are working on a 10 acre piece of land located in Auburn.  They are learning the climate, soil, and markets of their new home and what it means and what it takes to be successful market farmers in the Pacific Northwest.

This blog is a means for the farmers to share their story with the larger community, for people interested in following the farm season’s journey and strengthen mutually beneficial connections.

Hope Burundi Cooperative

We are refugees because civil war in our country, Burundi, made it dangerous for us to stay and forced many of us to flee in 1972.  Because of this, many of us were born and raised in refugee camps in Tanzania, Congo or Rwanda.  While there we farmed to provide food for our families because supplies were often very limited.  Many of our families are still in camps or relocated to different countries.

A total of 125 of us moved to King County three years ago and started the Hope Burundi Cooperative as a way to organize and support ourselves in our new home.  Under this cooperative, we share the decisions and profits of the farm.

We farm because these are the skills we have and can make a living with.  We can share the finances and the vegetables with our families.

Thank you!  Murakoze!

Somali-Bantu Farmers of Washington

Before fleeing to refugee camps, Somali-Bantu people were farmers owning large pieces of land and were a major food provider for our country.  Historically, we were segregated from the rest of Somalia and were always given fewer resources than the rest of our country.  During civil war in our country, it was dangerous for us to stay and became even more segregated against us, forcing many of us to flee to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.  Many of us lived there for 15 years, and some of our families live in refugee camps still.

Why are we farming here?  Because this is the work we know and can do well. The profits and expenses are shared with the whole community and other members from the community can work in exchange for fresh vegetables for their families.

Thank you!  Mahad Sanid!

If you have any questions about who we are and what we do, contact:

Serges Hakizimana, the Burundi farm manager, at sergesh@chs-wa.org

Mohamed Rago, the Somali-Bantu marketing manager, at 619.808.1403

or Lydia Caudill- the marketing assistant, at lydiac@chs-wa.org

Thank you for reading!

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