“Farming is a profession of hope.” — Brian Brett
My name is Kyla Werlin and I manage USCRI Cleveland’s agricultural program, which empowers newly arrived refugees and immigrants with the skills and resources to grow their own food. Participants in my program are given access to their own plot of land at our 1.25-acre urban farm next to Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy and receive hands-on training in growing techniques. Last year, I had the privilege of helping 70 participants harvest over 1,000 pounds of fresh produce.
In addition to providing newly arrived families with community connections, social support, and increased access to fresh, healthy foods, our program enables participants to earn extra income by pooling their harvest and selling at local farmers’ markets. Those interested in starting their own farm businesses can receive education and mentorship in business planning and, if eligible, matching funds up to $2,000 to launch their own small business through our Individual Development Accounts program.
Since my program launched in 2017, I have seen growing interest from my students in keeping bees and raising their own chickens for eggs. In order to grow our farm and the opportunities available to our students to produce fresh food for themselves, their families, and the community, I want to incorporate beekeeping and raising chickens into the program this season. $1,000 from the Awesome Foundation will enable us to build a chicken coop, purchase beehives, and launch this project. In addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, students will harvest and enjoy fresh eggs and honey. I will provide them with hands-on education in raising chickens and beekeeping, skills they can continue to utilize at home and on the farm.
Funded by Cleveland, OH (March 2020)