I love Farm Tours, so when I heard that the Georgia Organics – Farm Rx 2013 Conference is having a cultural farm tour I definitely knew I had to go even though it was a very cold and rainy February morning! The Global Growers Network is a local non-profit that works primarily with people who have been forced to flee their countries because of war and persecution. Through a network of farms and gardens, many people who were farmers back home have an opportunity to share their traditional farming and local food practices with their new community here in Georgia.
The first stop of the tour was the Umurima, The Burundi Women’s Farm, which began three years ago as a partnership with Global Growers founder Susan Pavlin and a community of Burundi farmers. The Burundi women who fled the country of Burundi, an impoverished African nation, have been growing crops several years. Once Burundi farmers came to Decatur, Georgia, they were at a loss as to how to make a living in a land of strip malls and fast-food restaurants. When Susan Pavlin saw their plight, she then decide to find a little plot and worked out a deal with its owners to permit the families to farm there. Today, almost one acre is cultivated communally under the leadership of the Burundi women, who grow traditional East African crops as well as “American” produce for their families, the local markets, and the Global Growers’ Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. There are 15 Burundi families that assist with the garden and they also make their own compost from green and brown matter. It was great to speak with the Burundi women and hear how they did their own farming when they had lived in Burundi. One story was during the start of making this garden was when the Founder Susan Pavlin was noticing that the Burundi women were not happy about some of the gardening tools that they were using for the garden. One of the women request a hoe that would make it easier for cultivating the soil and kill the weeds. So Pavlin found a gardening hoe and gave it to the women. The women were mad and stated that this was not a gardening hoe. Pavlin thought there was a lost of translation and repeated that this is a gardening hoe. Her interpreter notice that Pavlin did not understand and started to explain and show what a Burundi hoe looks like. Here is the picture below to see the different garden hoe tools:
Well, Palvin was in shock at what she saw and knew that there is no way that she can find something like this that was being sold here in the United States. First the ladies was interested in getting someone to go the Burundi and purchase this very sharp blade flat hoe and bring it back in an airplane. Well, TSA would definitely not like this. So the women decided to make their own hoe and had a blacksmith make their own blade. They were so happy that now other fellow gardeners are requesting to buy. Hey this may be a new business venture for them.
Having the chance to visit this farm, I really learned to appreciate what these women do for their community and what I can do for my own. Next week, I will discuss my second Farm Tour at the Decatur’s Kitchen Garden. Click here for viewing the Umurima, The Burundi Women’s Farm pictures.