There’s a new kind of farm in Iowa helping those without land become the FarmHers they were meant to be: In Harmony Farm. Everybody loves their birth place. And the women of Burundi, Africa are no different. They love their home country but unfortunately could not continue living there. Looking for a fresh start, these refugees fled to America for safety – now – they’re flourishing as FarmHers.
Combining Two Ways of Life
Once Board Director, Sharon Krause discovered farmers were looking for farm land to continue their way of life, she knew she had to do something. She and other members on the In Harmony Farm Board used 70 acres of tillable pieces and broke them into parcels giving nine families an opportunity to grow their businesses.
Beuile and Evance are women from two of the nine families hand selected to scale up. The women regularly bring several items. Sweet potatoes, African eggplant, onions and tomatoes at $5 a basket to their local farmers’ market.
An Agricultural Way of Life
But farming is a natural way of life for these women. In their home country, 90% of the population farms. But Burundi has suffered civil unrest since the 1970s. Because of this, Burundi is one of the poorest and densely populated countries in Africa.
Evance recalls as an eight year old little girl waking up and her parents informing her there was a civil war in their country. And that it was time for her family to run! So they went to Congo, but there was also a war there. So once again they packed up and went to Rwanda. Soon after, there was a genocide in Rwanda so they ended up in Tanzania.
Soon after again, 700 refugees, including Evance and Beuile arrived in Iowa with no knowledge of the culture.
From not speaking English to not even knowing how to ride the bus, adjusting to their new life in America was very difficult. Despite the challenges, Beuile and Evance made the USA their home. Soon after, it was time to get back to farming starting with Global Greens Farm. But there wasn’t quite enough room for the amount of vegetables to make a living.
Bright Ideas Giving a New Chance
Meanwhile, Sharon Krause called up her friend Gina Ross with an idea.
Sharon didn’t know what would come of her farm after she was gone, but knew she wanted it to be for good. Instead of waiting until she was gone she thought why not experience the joy I can bring to others now?!
And from that inspiration she created something very wonderful called In Harmony Farm.
It is extremely difficult for FarmHers like Beuile and Evance to rent or lease small amounts of land in Iowa. At the same time there are landowners in Iowa who don’t know what to do with their tillable farmland. In Harmony Farm is the connector for those two types of people in Iowan agriculture.
More acres equals more types of food the women could grow to sell at their local farmers market. And these veggies became quite the hit locally! Because their produce is extremely specialized they always sell out and even market some of the vegetable to buyers in other states!
But this is just a starting point for these women. Their end goals include renting more farmland and/or purchasing a farmstead outside of town to grow even more produce at a farm of their own.
Expanding to a Better Life
Sharon and Gina not only provide land to farmers to get them started, but help them with goals of expansion. Their end goal is to help these farmers become completely independent and further emerged in American culture. They currently work very closely with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation to create a small farm land access program.
Beuile and Evance left their home hoping to continue their agricultural roots in America. Because of the kindness of people like Sharon and Gina, they are able to do so and embrace their FarmHer spirit.
Watch the full In Harmony Farm episode sponsored by Nationwide.
Find More Stories at Everybody Eats
We all eat, and that is why farming will always matter. Everybody Eats is where the stories of food and farming intersect.
These stories told through my FarmHer lens connect us to our food and more importantly, the people behind it.
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