MONSON — Farmhands from across Maine are helping a group of immigrant farmers buy a community farm.
“MOFGA reached out to all the farmers. They found this farming community was looking to buy their forever farm — it’s 100 acres in Wales — so they asked the farming community to support them. So a lot of the farmer’s markets, vegetable farmers, the cheesemakers have all been donating some of their proceeds to this worthy cause in Maine,” said Joy Bueschen of Turning Page Farm and Brewery in Monson.
The Somali Bantu Community Association, or SBCA, offers a community farming program called Liberation Farms but currently they are leasing land.
“Their aim is food justice for all. And what we like about it is that they’re looking for sustainability, they’re looking to combat food insecurity and especially in this case, for marginalized communities,” said Tim Bueschen, also of Turning Page.
“I think their mission statement for Liberation Farms is really thought-provoking and exactly aligned with what we do here at our farm in trying to support community,” Joy Bueschen said.
Somali Bantu refugees began arriving in Lewiston in the early 2000s and to them, the farm is about more than having a place to plant vegetables.
“It will be a place where our people can go out to dance the drum, do their musical instruments, they can do spiritual healing. It is going to be a huge place and it’s going to be partially farming and also cultural center,” said SBCA Executive Director Muhidin Libah.
About a quarter of a million dollars has been raised to purchase the old Hilliard farm in Wales but just over $100,000 is still needed. More than 200 immigrant farmers will work the land.
“It feels really important that in Maine, which is quite frankly a poor state, we need a lot of help up here, so it felt really good to sort of give back to something close to us, which is farming,” Tim Bueschen said.
Craft beer drinkers who want to support the cause might consider going to Turning Page Farm in Monson on Sunday.
“We’re going to invite people to donate. And we’re going to turn over all our tips over to the SBCA and we’re donating half of our beer sales to the SBCA,” he said.
The Turning Page Farm and Brewery event is noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday also is Open Farm Day in Maine.