It’s eight in the morning, and farmers with hand hoes and buckets have been here for two hours already, weeding and watering their plots before the heat of the day. Over 200 members of the Somali Bantu community of Lewiston, Maine, make the short drive out to Liberation Farms a few times each week to tend their crops. Visitors to our farm often comment on how few weeds they spot between stalks of corn. It’s not magic, we tell them: our farmers are constantly in friendly competition to see who can have the best-looking plot.
Like a large-scale community garden, Liberation Farms allows families to grow food for themselves. We want to feed our kids the foods that we grew up with in Somalia, like corn, greens, and goat meat. Working together, we can make this happen in a way we never could have individually. In 2020, support from community partners helped us move our farm operations onto a single property where we have room for everyone – and a herd of goats, too!
Many people in our community are supporting large families through hourly-wage jobs. Since high-quality produce is otherwise unaffordable for us, growing for ourselves at Liberation Farms is a path to financial savings and food independence. We also use the SNAP and WIC programs to give our community and others much-needed nourishment, boosting the health and cultural connections of younger generations.
Liberation Farms is also growing our Iskaashito program, through which farmers work together to sell vegetables at our farmers markets and farm stand. People beyond the Somali Bantu community are buying everything from cornmeal to tomatoes from us, and we encourage them to use food stamps to turn just a few dollars into a fresh basket of veggies. We are so excited to see what the future brings now that we have found a home here in Maine.