Breaking Through Concrete visits Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture
A woman tends her 1/4-acre plot at the New Roots for Refugees Farm, Kansas City. Photo by Michael Hanson
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Excerpt from visit to Kansas:
Seven women in ankle-length floral dresses bend at the waist in rows of kale or arugula or kohlrabi. Their dark-chocolate hands effortlessly scoop and pick and cut the stems and pull the weeds. The low sun is already hot coming through the hazy white sky that makes the Kansas City downtown in the distance look like a mirage.
With the low-slung brick buildings of the Juniper Gardens public housing on one side of this seven-acre farm, it’s hard to know which is more out of place, more of a mirage: the city, the farm, the dried-out yards of the apartments, or the farmer women from Burundi, Somalia, Burma, Bhutan, or Sudan.
The Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas City started the Farm Business Development Program in 2006. The area sees many refugees from Africa and Asia and some of the women receive classes and support at the Catholic Charities center.
Rachel Bonar was director of women’s programs there in 2005. She heard the women asking for a garden since most of them farmed or at least gardened in their native homes. So they started a community garden at the office.
“Almost immediately, we realized that these women are really good at growing food,” says Rachel. “So the next year we partnered with Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture and began this farm.”