New England Immigrant Farmers Cultivate Market Gardens

Gus Schumacher of Wholesome Wave shares a story below about immigrant farmers in New England and the opportunities available to them to begin market gardens. Gus will be joined on stage at this year’s festival by 3 immigrant farmers/cooks from Nepal, Kenya and the Dominican Republic who will give cooking lessons to Boston restaurant chefs. See the program description.

By Gus Schumacher

Photo Credit: Francie Randolph

Farmers market programs across New England are benefiting new immigrant farmers every year. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently gave a Farmers Market Promotion (FMPP) grant to Sustainable Cape in Truro, MA to build capacity at farmers markets on the Lower Cape. Hardworking immigrant farmers such as Dgree and Bhala (pictured here), refugees from Nepal, are benefiting from this in immeasurable ways.

Dgree and Bhala met the Truro Farmers Market manager, Francie Randolph in the Truro public school community 3 years ago. Knowing they were gardeners Francine suggested they join the farmer’s market as a vendor. Dgree and Bhala agreed and began cultivating a small market garden that has grown to 4 acres today. They are now selling at the Truro and Provincetown markets, highlighting produce from their country.

“What has resulted is truly astounding – Dgree and Bhala are incredible people, extremely talented growers and have created a stunningly beautiful production farm in the rolling hills of Truro,” says Francie.

The couple now sells their produce to a wide variety of customers from The Truro and Provincetown communities, from vacationers and second home-owners, to those who shop with tokens (including WIC and senior discount.)

The Lower Cape Farmers Market also runs a Nutrition Incentive Program that doubles the first $10 spent every week for those in need, giving them $20 to spend on healthy food. “It’s a win-win-win as it helps people afford fresh food, drives Federal funds to our local harvesters and increases the long term health of our community,” Francie reports.

This hard working Nepalese farm family is one of hundreds of new American and refugee farmers in New England growing fresh healthy fruits and vegetables, marketing at local farmers markets and introducing consumers to dozens of new vegetable varieties, now grown in America.

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