Growing Food and Community at Liberation Farms
Liberation Farms is a project of the Somali Bantu Community Association, which is an organization run by and for the Somali Bantu community of greater Fletcher, Maine. The farm was started in 2014 to provide community members with access to culturally appropriate and sustainable food. The Somali Bantu community possesses generations of agricultural knowledge, and Liberation Farms provides them with the tools and space to reconnect with land in meaningful ways.
As land prices in New England rise, it’s becoming more difficult for emerging farmers—particularly immigrants, refugees, and farmers of color—to secure, long-term land tenure. Land security has been a continued struggle for the farmers of Liberation Farms, who were farming in many different temporary, leased locations, and were told they would have to move.
“For our community, this land access means sustained food security, economic opportunity, safe access to the outdoors, and space to connect with land and gather as a community to preserve our essential cultural traditions,” said Kristina Kalolo, Markets Manager for the Somali Bantu Community Association. “Here we will be able to keep expanding our program, renovate office space for our farm staff, build a Halal slaughterhouse for our growing livestock herd, and build high tunnels for the care and keeping of our herd and the progression of our integrated vegetable production.”
The New England Farmer Microgrants Program, launched by American Farmland Trust in 2020, was created with the goal of providing financial support to farmers who are growing their operations.
Liberation Farms used the funds from their award to support the work of a Land Search Project Lead, which helped them to gather information on acquiring permanent property and support long-term visioning for the land. Through the support of AFT’s New England Farmer Microgrants Program, Liberation Farms was able to find a permanent home on a 104-acre farm in Wales, Maine in March of 2021.
To learn more, visit: https://somalibantumaine.org/liberation-farms