DES MOINES, Iowa – The rapidly rising demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables has created a robust new market for refugees who fled violence in their home countries and found peace in farming small plots of land in several U.S. cities.
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With help from a federal grant program, Lutheran Services in Iowa provides farm plots for 26 refugee families in Des Moines who are now harvesting their own produce and selling it to cooperatives and at a farmers market.
Ron Munia, who works for the federal Office of Refugee Services, says federal grants have been given to 11 refugee farm programs.
He says farming helps the refugees feel at home and integrate into a community because of the interaction with the local population and other refugees.