|Heartland Communities, Inc.|
Rose Avenue Education Farm
Refugee Incubator Farm of Northeast Indiana Grant Project
Jain Young, Project Manager
Collaboration for Refugee Participation in Agriculture
Three nonprofit organizations, Heartland Communities, Inc., the Workers’ Project, Inc., and Save Maumee Grassroots Organization, Inc. have come together to collaborate and to make an incubator farm program under Refugee Agriculture Participation Program grant from US Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. Plowshares Food System Project unites with the refugee community and other stakeholders in the Refugee Incubator Farm of Northeast Indiana at the Rose Avenue Education Farm for the development of agricultural and food systems related services that will improve the livelihoods–physically, economically, and psychosocially–of refugee families resettled in the United States. The project takes into consideration the unique characteristics of the refugee populations being served such as language, skills, agrarian backgrounds, health, and culture. The grant may be renewed perhaps many times beyond the original 3-year period, however, the Rose Avenue Education Farm will be ongoing past the grant period.
As part of Heartland Communities’ Plowshares Local Food Systems Project, the principal goals of the Refugee Incubator Farm of Northeast Indiana program is to provide access to jobs and businesses in agriculture through the establishment of an incubator farm, training & technical assistance, and tools & equipment necessary to embark on a successful start-up farm business. Resources in the area are brought together for access to refugees who have language barriers through interpreters in written and spoken formats.
The largest resettled refugee group in Indiana is the Chin, an ethnic group from Burma. Resettlement agencies have also resettled significant numbers of other ethnic minority groups from Burma. In fact, Fort Wayne is home to over 10,000 Burmese refugees. Many refugees have an agricultural background and are interested in farming for income in new agricultural career pathways that will provide opportunities to be economically independent and work as families and cooperative groups to manage a farm.
Experts and educators from a variety of academic, government, and farm businesses are visiting the farm to teach about market farming and all the related topics from food safety to business planning. Project Manager Jain Young has earned a Certificate of Training on Good Agricultural Practices on food safety for farms from Purdue Extension.
Sharon Partridge from Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District speaks to the farmer participants April 20, 2020 while her colleague Scott Thompson collects soil samples to evaluate and plan for the conversion from corn & soy row-crop field to an intensive vegetable farm.