The Iowa program helps the South Asian family realize the dream of agriculture in the United States

Iowa is home to thousands of refugee families, many of whom arrive in the United States with very little. A local subway-based organization is working to change that by helping some become entrepreneurs. Lutheran Services of 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 links them to a piece of land. “As people go through our training program and graduate, we work with them to move to their land where they rent or purchase farms in the Des Moines area,” said Daniel Bowser, supervisor of the community services team for immigrants and LSI Refugees with Global Greens also helps refugee families with their English during that time. “We have to start with a 50×50 plot. Then, gradually we go up,” said Tika Bhandari, one of the farmers with the program. “Now I’m on a quarter-acre plot.” Tika Bhandari’s family moved to the United States in 2008 from Bhutan, a South Asian country. “My father and mother were farmers,” Bhandari said. “Coming here, my father saw this great land and he wanted that land.” Due to costs and the language barrier, the Bhandari family felt that owning agricultural land was unattainable. After linking with Global Greens, however, it became possible. Now, Bhandari is one of many people who are part of the program and also participate in the global vegetable farmers market or have their own business selling their crops. “We support about 30 business owners who are doing this as a secondary fuss to make a few thousand dollars,” Bower said. “Two people are full time.” Additionally, around 200 people take part in the community garden in West Des Moines. Many of these crops are sold at the farmers’ 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 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 subway-based organization is working to change that by helping some become entrepreneurs.

Lutheran Services of 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 links them to a piece of land.

“As people go through our training program and graduate, we work with them to move to their land where they rent or buy farms in the Des Moines area,” said Daniel Bowser, supervisor of community services for immigrants and refugees at LSI.

The Global Greens team also helps refugee families with their English during that time.

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

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

“My father and mother were farmers,” Bhandari said. “Coming here, my father saw this great land and he wanted that land.”

Due to costs and the language barrier, the Bhandari family felt that owning agricultural land was unattainable. After linking with Global Greens, however, it became possible. Now, Bhandari is one of many people who are part of the program and also participate in the global vegetable farmers market or have their own business selling their crops.

“We support about 30 business owners who are doing this as a secondary fuss to make a few thousand dollars,” Bower said. “Two people are full time.”

Additionally, around 200 people take part in the community garden in West Des Moines. Many of these crops are sold at the farmers’ 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 food stamps can double their money,” Bowser said. “They can buy even more organically grown vegetables.”

More from Kayla James:


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