All Sections
action:article | category:NEWHAMPSHIRE07 | adString:NEWHAMPSHIRE07 | zoneID:2
Welcome guest, you have 3 views left. | Register | Sign In



Workers for the The Common Earth Farms farm stand sell fresh vegetables at Sweeney Park in Manchester on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Refugee-farmers offer a moveable feast in Manchester

MANCHESTER — While it's not exactly an ice cream truck, a group of local farmers has opened a mobile market, which sets up and operates a small farm stand twice weekly at West Side parks.

Common Earth Farms is marketing the food that a handful of refugee-farmers grow on a two-acre plot in Bedford. The food is sold Monday afternoons at Sweeney Park and Wednesday afternoons at Wolfe Park.

On Monday, the farmers set up a single stand underneath a canopy beside Ferry Street, within feet of St. Raphael Church. Food was placed in wooden containers — lush greens and summer squash, sweet-smelling onions and first-of-the-season eggplants.

"I really love fresh fruits and vegetables," said Dubuque Street resident Tara Mishra after spending about $8 on a bag full of produce.

The Common Earth Farms was launched by International Institute of New Hampshire, a Boston-based organization that helps to establish refugees in the state. About four refugees work full-time on the farm.

Many of the farmers are older refugees who have struggled with English and found it difficult to adapt to their new country.

"I can't understand English, so I can't get a job," said Khada Niroula, 51, a refugee from Bhutan. He said the food appears to grow faster in New Hampshire than his native country.

This is the third year of existence for Common Earth Farm. The farm got a boost this year when the Citizens Bank Foundation provided a $30,000 grant, which allowed the farm to purchase a 2010 Ford cargo van.As part of the grant, Citizens told Common Earth to focus on the West Side, where residents have few opportunities to purchase fresh produce, the bank said."
By partnering with nonprofit organizations, we aim to make targeted neighborhoods more stable, healthy and livable," said Joe Carelli, president of Citizens Bank in New Hampshire.

"The mobile food market will offer access to healthy and affordable foods while also providing business training for refugee farmers," he said.

Any customer who uses EBT food stamps to purchase produce will receive a voucher that equals the amount of their purchase, in effect doubling their purchasing power.

Marie Nduwimama, 51, a refugee from Burundi, said she works about eight hours a day at the Bedford location on Jenkins Road. The farm doesn't use pesticides, and its only fertilizer is from fish products.

Last year, Common Earth sold about $7,000 worth of produce, said Lianna French, market manager of the Common Earth. However, a permanent farm stand in Bedford is expected to increase the revenue figure this year.

And with the mobile market, Common Earth is hoping to increase its visibility.

Currently, about 75 percent of customers are refugees.

"We're still in transition," French said. "We're hoping once it's up and running it will create more of a customer base."

The mobile market is expected to operate into October.

mhayward@unionleader.com



Comments


To improve the chance of seeing your comment posted here or published in the New Hampshire Union Leader:

  • Identify yourself. Accounts using fake or incomplete names are suspended regardless of the quality of posts.
  • Say something new, stay on topic, keep it short.
  • Links to outside URLs are discouraged, if used they should be on topic.
  • Avoid comments in bad taste, write well, avoid using all capital letters
  • Don't cite facts about individuals or businesses without providing a means to verify the claim
  • If you see an objectionable comment please click the "Report Abuse" button and be sure to tell us why.

Note: Comments are the opinion of the respective poster and not of the publisher.

Be the first to comment.

Post a comment


You must sign in before you can post comments. If you are experiencing issues with your account please e-mail abuse@unionleader.com.


action:article | category:NEWHAMPSHIRE07 | adString:NEWHAMPSHIRE07 | zoneID:88
     

FOLLOW US
Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required