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Farmers’ market catering to refugee farmers looking to expand post-pandemic

DES MOINES, Iowa — Farmers’ markets are commonplace in central Iowa, but there is one group focused on helping farmers who have come to the United States in hopes of fulfilling a dream.

Since its inception in 2014, Global Greens Farmers’ Market has solely featured refugee agronomists. Food Hub and Marketing Supervisor for Global Greens, Daniel Bowser said last year, language barrier issues for farmers were magnified by the pandemic. 

“I think the pandemic has brought up a lot of things with farmers. In some ways, the pandemic was really challenging for people. A lot of folks in the refugee and immigrant community don’t have the technology or English skills to be able to sell their produce online like a lot of small farms were doing,” Bowser said. 

Despite these struggles, Global Greens did open its farmers’ market.

This year it averages about 10 to 15 vendors at the farmers’ market, has connected 150 families with community gardening opportunities and currently has 20 families training at its farm in West Des Moines.

According to Bowser,  most of these refugees were farmers in their home countries. On the training farm, refugees are learning about the difference in climate and crops found here in Iowa 

Bowser said the Global Greens Farmers’ Market also gives other refugees in the state a slice of home.

“It’s an important place for farmers to sell their food. It is an important place for community members to find culturally appropriate foods, where they can’t necessarily find that your regular grocery store in town because farmers are growing food that is popular in their home countries,” Bowser said. 

Global Greens is also looking for more land access.

“What we found is that we need a larger place where farmers can have secure long-term lands and years where they can invest in their businesses. And so we’re actively searching for 100-acre piece of land in the Des Moines area,” Bowser said. 

Global Greens Farmers’ Market takes place in the Drake neighborhood every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to noon. 

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