- Agronomic: corn, potatoes, sorghum (milo)
- Fruits: berries (strawberries)
- Vegetables: sweet potatoes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), rutabagas, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
- Additional Plants: herbs
- Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation, irrigation, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, workshop
- Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, marketing management
- Pest Management: row covers (for pests)
- Soil Management: organic matter
- Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, urban agriculture, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures
This project aimed to address the barriers that former refugee farmers in Iowa, specifically in Central Iowa, faced in utilizing their farming skills and experiences to start or improve the profitability of their farming enterprises. LSI Global Greens supported these farmers in overcoming barriers by providing access to land at a training farm and offering culturally and linguistically appropriate education, training, and technical assistance on developing a sustainable farming business. Farmers on the training farm were gradually exposed to costs of farm business ownership and management. Training areas focused on building efficiencies of scale as farmers slowly accessed more land on the training farm, with the ultimate goal of transitioning farm businesses to another piece of land where farmers will operate their businesses independently. Project activities and outcomes were designed to help to improve the profitability of these farmers, ensure that their farm land is being cared for in a sustainable manner, and improve the quality of life for the farmers and their communities through increased profits, fulfilling their desires to use existing skills, and through an increase in locally, sustainably grown produce. Project outcomes have also benefited other Iowa communities and refugee beginning farmers in the state and North Central Region (NCR) through extensive sharing of project structure and results.
The outcome of the project was to help 31 (of expected 34) beginning refugee farmers gain knowledge and skills that they will put into practice in order to increase the profitability of their farming business. Of these 31, LSI supported 4 farmers in transitioning their businesses to independent land and operations. 8 farmers accessed ¼ acre, the largest plot size, on the Global Greens training farm and were designated as Advanced Market Farmers (AMFs). This group will be next to transition to independent land sites.
Farmer profitability grew dramatically in several areas during this project period. Total participant income grew dramatically over the project period. In 2016, farmers grossed $67,570. In 2018, gross sales grew to $140,546. A large part of this was due to the growth of the Global Greens Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which increased sales tenfold from 2016-2019 (2016 gross was $5,343; 2019 gross was $54,285). Farmers were also able to access new customers through training and assistance in becoming a vendor for EBT, Double Up Food Bucks, WIC and Seniors’ Farmers’ Market Nutrition program customers. Sales from customers using these benefits grew from $12,503 in 2016 to $34,499 in 2019, a 176% increase. These sales also reflect improved food access for low-income community members, especially those from the refugee community since a large portion of benefit-eligible sales came from the purchase of produce unique to farmers’ home countries.
Expected Learning Outcomes
• Thirty-Four beginning farmers will increase knowledge and skills necessary to start and/or expand their
sustainable vegetable farming enterprises.
- Actual result: 31 farmers participated in farming training program and increased knowledge and skills necessary to start/expand sustainable vegetable farming enterprises.
Expected Action Outcomes
• Thirty-Four beginning farmers will use their new knowledge and skills to increase profits earned from a new or
existing farm business.
Actual results: 30 farmers used knowledge and skills gained to increase profits earned from a new or existing farm business.
• Eight beginning farmers will transition from the training farm and continue to operate their farming enterprise
Actual result: Four farmers were able to transition to independent land sites. 8 farmers moved up to Advanced Market Farmer (AMF) level on incubator site and were able to access up to 1/4 acre of land. These farmers have been able to participant in Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) Savings Incentive Program and to sell at independent markets, including the Iowa Food Coop.
Primary beneficiaries are beginning refugee farmers in Central Iowa. Secondary beneficiaries are other Iowa and
NCR refugee beginning farmers and the organizations assisting them. The tertiary beneficiary is the local food
system in Central Iowa.