A group of immigrants from Somalia is growing a new life in Maine.
The Somali Bantu Community Association of Lewiston is leasing about 3.5 acres from the owners of Intervale Farm in New Gloucester for the growing season. The association is paying through grants.
Last fall, Carl and Jan Wilcox decided it would be their last growing season at Intervale Farms. When they were approached about leasing the land, they decided to give it a try.
“Every season you learn something,” Carl Wilcox said.
This season, he’s learning a new culture, and realizing these farmers do things a little differently. They farm without machines and without shoes.
Thirty nine families have plots on the farm. They’re growing mostly corn, but also other crops, like tomatoes, peas and carrots.
The goal of the program is to recreate the economic systems in Somalia. The hope is that it will make the transition to life in the United States smoother for Somali immigrants.
“Farming is one big part of our culture, so if they have farming, the rest is easy,” Muhidin Libah, executive director of the Somali Bantu Community Association, said.
The farmers plan to have a harvest celebration at the end of the season. They’re also looking into ways to sell their crops.