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Iowa program helps South Asian family realize their dream of farming in the United States


Iowa is home to thousands of refugee families, many of whom come to the United States with very little. A local metro-based organization is working to change that by helping some become entrepreneurs. Lutheran Services in Iowa runs a grant-funded program called Global Greens. The program allows refugees who were once farmers in their home country to apply for the program, which connects them to a plot of land. “As people go through our training program and graduate, we work with them to move to their own land where they rent or buy farms in the Des Moines area,” Daniel said. Bowser, LSI’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Services Supervisor. The Global Greens team is also helping refugee families with their English during this time. “We have to start with a 50×50 plot. Then gradually we go up,” said Tika Bhandari, one of the farmers in the scheme. “Now I’m in a quarter acre lot.” Tika Bhandari’s family moved to the United States in 2008 from Bhutan, a country in South Asia. “My father and mother were farmers,” Bhandari said. “Coming here, my dad saw this big pitch and he wanted this pitch.” Due to costs and a language barrier, Bhandari’s family thought it was impossible to own their own farmland. However, after linking up with Global Greens, it became possible. Today, Bhandari is one of many people in the program who also participate in the global green farmers’ market or have their own business selling their crops. “We’re supporting about 30 business owners who sort of do it as a scramble to earn a few thousand extra bucks,” Bower said. “Two people are full-time.” Additionally, approximately 200 people participate in the West Des Moines Community Garden. Many of these crops are sold at the farmer’s market. The market is located at 3200 University Avenue in Des Moines. The market has helped many families with SNAP benefits through the Double Up Food Bucks program. “People who use their food stamps can double their money,” Bowser said. “They can buy even more organically grown vegetables.” More from Kayla James:

Iowa is home to thousands of refugee families, many of whom come to the United States with very little. A local metro-based organization is working to change that by helping some become entrepreneurs.

Lutheran Services in Iowa runs a grant-funded program called Global Greens. The program allows refugees who were once farmers in their home country to apply for the program, which connects them to a plot of land.

“As people go through our training program and graduate, we work with them to move to their own land where they rent or buy farms in the Des Moines area,” Daniel said. Bowser, LSI’s Immigrant and Refugee Community Services Supervisor.

The Global Greens team is also helping refugee families with their English during this time.

“We have to start with a 50×50 plot. Then gradually we go up,” said Tika Bhandari, one of the farmers in the scheme. “Now I’m in a quarter acre lot.”

Tika Bhandari’s family moved to the United States in 2008 from Bhutan, a country in South Asia.

“My father and mother were farmers,” Bhandari said. “Coming here, my dad saw this big pitch and he wanted this pitch.”

Due to costs and a language barrier, Bhandari’s family thought it was impossible to own their own farmland. However, after linking up with Global Greens, it became possible. Today, Bhandari is one of many people in the program who also participate in the global green farmers’ market or have their own business selling their crops.

“We’re supporting about 30 business owners who sort of do it as a scramble to earn a few thousand extra bucks,” Bower said. “Two people are full-time.”

Additionally, approximately 200 people participate in the West Des Moines Community Garden. Many of these crops are sold at the farmer’s market.

The market is located at 3200 University Avenue in Des Moines. The market has helped many families with SNAP benefits through the Double Up Food Bucks program.

“People who use their food stamps can double their money,” Bowser said. “They can buy even more organically grown vegetables.”

More from Kayla James:


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