Elderly refugees growing fresh produce in Louisville at Hope Community Farm
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – The Hope Community Farm in Hazelwood is a place of healing for all who work there. For the past five years, refugees from Central and East Africa have been growing fresh vegetables for the community.
The aim of the farm is to provide work for elderly refugees who could not find a place in their workplace. A side effect of this is a thriving community of supportive people with shared experiences.
Emmanuel Niyivuga joined the farm two years ago after leaving the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He said he was happy with the job as it is similar to what he did in his home country.
He is just one of 82 families who use the farm to grow traditional African vegetables for use in their family homes and restaurants.
Sarah Kimeu, owner of Sa Sa Samosa Kitchen, an African catering company, said she wouldn’t be able to create authentic flavors without the work of people like Niyivuga.
“The taste of fresh, organic vegetables makes for delicious samosas,” Kimeu said. “It also gave me the opportunity to participate in farmers’ markets, which require these organic foods.”
The commercial structure of the farm is called Community Supported Agriculture, where members pay a subscription to collect a weekly bag of harvested produce. The farmers then use these funds to pay for operating costs for the next planting season and earn an allowance.
CSA is the brainchild of Dr Pauline Mukeshimana, who wanted it to be a holistic way to provide well-being to workers.
“It’s like our hospital, it’s like our court, it’s all here,” Mukeshimana said. “Their loneliness is gone because they have their peers and can talk. They can laugh together; they can cry together.
Niyivuga added that being with his friends reminds him of his home.
“When we are here, of course, we talk about what we do when we garden, but most of the time we talk about our life at home in Africa,” Niyivuga said.
Mukeshimana said she was proud of the strong community these people have built for themselves.
“When they come here, it’s like they’re doing therapy for each other,” she says. “They work physically, which helps their bodies. For this reason, they return home happy.
Mukeshimana estimates that more than 800 people enjoy the products grown on the farm.
For more information on Hope Community Farm, Click here.
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