Meeting and Learning

The farmers are starting to talk about the end of the season because it sure feels like the weather is cooling off.  Weather calls for rainy and overcast today and for the next few days.  In the mean time, we are beginning to reflect more on where we are and how we have been doing.  Conversations are beginning to include ideas of what will come next year, and we will keep you up to date as we figure that out!

The Hope Burundi Cooperative, in their second year, has a much clearer, practiced structure that they have developed and continue to use.  They meet on Mondays to go over new issues and the different directions they want to go with their farm.  Today, the importance of reviewing this year’s profits versus expenses was the topic of conversation, and will be continued in the upcoming weeks.

Hope Burundi Farm Meeting

The Somali-Bantu Farmers of Washington are in the middle of their first year and are learning a lot about what it means to run a farm in a cooperative way.  With some challenges, they have begun to learn the importance of clear roles and have re-established leadership in their community, after meeting several times to sort this out last week.  The leadership development aspect of this project is just as important as the farming part, if not more, and it is great to see the small successes work towards larger ones.

This week, the zucchini are doing fantastic and the lettuce is gorgeous and colorful.  And watch out, the Hope Burundi Cooperative has started a relationship with a near-by raspberry farm and may be selling raspberries at a farmers market near you!

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A Call for Volunteers

It is busy on the farm and in the best of ways!  We currently have much produce to sell, and people who are able to harvest and prepare it.  We have also recognized a new need on the farm, we need help marketing at the farmers markets.

Limited English and a developing understanding of American culture makes it challenging for the farmers to sell their best and excel at the markets.  This is a great learning experience, and support from a mentor or assistant at the market would provide a a safer place for them to practice their developing English and see what many people expect the farmers market experience to be like.

These helpers will help them set up at the market, talk to customers, and be support for anything that comes up.  The markets are currently expanding, and most of them are in S. King County, but we will be grateful and as flexible as we can to create a way for you to help us.

Market Assistants and Burundi Farmers

Here is an example of students at Highline Community College helping market on their campus.  The farmers have given feedback that it is a great experience for them to be supported and the students helped more than they realized by showing how to work with customers.

If you are interested, please email Lydia at lydiac@chs-wa.org and she can answer any questions you have and help you find where you are most needed.  Thank you!

To Market, To Market

It is high time on the farm and so much going on.  We are going to farmers markets in Seattle and throughout south King County.  Local Somali-Bantu stores are being provided fresh, local vegetables by their own Somali-Bantu community farmers and everyone is really happy about this.  What else do we have on our horizon?

Restaurants!  And catering companies.  Madres Kitchen became the first catering company we are selling to and we are excited about the possibilities to be working with more places like this.  Do you have any suggestions of who to contact?  Would you like to support our community and buy our produce?

For more information, we can drop off samples of our produce and a flier if you would like.  Also, look at the new “Available Produce” page for weekly updated information on what is for sale now and the contact information.

Besides that, here are some photos of a day in preparation for our markets.  Enjoy.

Harvesting Peas for Market in the morning

Everyone helps Clean the Veggies

At the Des Moines Farmers Market

Now easy to Donate

Thanks to the concern and interest of our community, a system is now in place that makes donating easier, to ease the $5000 loss of the farmers from robbery three weeks ago.

People who would like to contribute are welcome to go to the CHS website (http://www.chs-wa.org/ ), which is the larger non-profit that sponsors Burst for Prosperity.  Click on the “Donate Online” button. That will take you to a page where you can fill out your information and your payment method etc. You can specify that the money is to go to the farmers by typing “Support for Burst Refugee Farming Project” in the “Please indicate which campaign you are giving to” box, and the money will go to support both of the farmer communities involved.

In the media section to the right are links to two articles published recently about the farmers’ loss and what is happening in response.  They are available for your reading pleasure!

Farm Stand and More

Let the markets begin!  We are marketing our produce and it looks great.  This last week was a really busy one with lots of learning and lots of running around.  Little things like knowing how many boxes we need, how to harvest new crops, and the importance of one dollar bills were all learned this week.

We opened the farm stand and began to meet the people who have been waiting for it to open.  It has a long history of being opened and many were waiting for it to sell again.  Several people were curious to meet the new farmers on the land and see what we have to sell.

Somali-Bantu 1st day at farmers market, with family invited

Burundi farmers showing off their market's harvest

This week is the second week we sold at Highline Community College.  With tremendous help from Kevin Stanley and his economics classes, the farmers learned how to set up the tables and talk to the customers about their produce and explain who they are.  The second week was more successful as more people on campus looked forward to the market and came prepared with money to spend!

Isha and her sisters selling at Highline Community College

Loss at the Farm

Hello Community,

Some of you are more up to date on the Refugee Farming Project than others.  Briefly, we are doing well and have some beautiful crops coming up, as well as a fantastic sign donated from friends of the farm.  Of course, we also have challenges we are working through, and this morning added another one to the table.

Somali-Bantu farmers, our new sign, and stolen rototiller and hoes

Sometime around 4am, our farm was robbed.  The robbers took much of our very important farm gear including:

Two rototillers, hoes, shovels, work boots, seed corn, a new water pump, half of our gate, as well as some other

random but important farm equipment.

The farmers are upset and saddened that someone would burglarize our farm, but it has given us momentum to continue our work in another direction.  As the space was made more open, and we were without tools, we spent today cleaning the farm stand from a long retirement, and it is well on its way to being a great farm stand once again.

This is both an update and a request.  If you are in possession of tools or equipment that you are not using, or know someone that is in that position, any and all help would be greatly appreciated.  You can contact Jennifer Thacker at jenniferT@chs-wa.org for information on how to donate or for more information.

We will still have a great farm season!

Thank you for your help and care,

the Farmers

Oh the weeds…

Everyone on the farm is hoping solstice has brought the end of these cool, wet spring days.  Neighboring farmers say they haven’t seen a year this wet for thirty years and our farm has felt what that means.  Plant starts that would be strong any other year did not have the warmth or the energy to come out and grow, so some crops had to be planted twice.  This is the same situation for many farmers in the Puget Sound.

But the days are definitely warmer!  Last week was a great with several sunny, warm days that made the crops and the farmers, much, much happier.  Oh, but not only the crops and the farmers.  This better growing weather is also better for…. the weeds…

As any farmer on a new farm knows, the first year in a place is the hardest.  Learning what the soil needs, which resources need to be developed, and developing appropriate infrastructure are all challenges they must face.  But along with these, the farmer must deal with weeds that have been able to establish themselves when the fields were not worked.

Our farm land has not been farmed for several years now, and the crabgrass is loving it!  Even after a good tilling, and a really good preliminary weeding, the crabgrass is being stubborn.  The farmers are right now spending a lot of time trying to gain control over these weeds so the crops can use all of the sun and soil themselves.

Before and After

On June 24th, twenty Highline Community College economics students came to put their hand in to help.  They are partnering with the Burundi farmers to help market their crops on the college campus for a new market, and the students will be able to learn with a developing business.

Are you interested in volunteering also?  I am helping develop a volunteer list to keep people informed and involved with work party opportunities.  If you would like to be included, please send your email and phone number to me, Lydia Caudill, at isa101799@yahoo.com.    Thanks and Happy Solstice!