From Somalia to Syracuse: How local program helps refugees grow and sell produce



Ahmed Abdirehman digs up a bunch of lettuce as the sun beats down on his neck.

He replants the lettuce on the other side of his plot of land at Salt City Harvest Farm, a 32-acre farm 12 miles outside the city of Syracuse. He planted them too close together, stunting their growth.

He wipes sweat off his brow and chuckles. “I don’t know farming,” he says.

Abdirehman, 56, is from Somalia. He fled to the U.S. in 2009 from his country’s civil wars.

He came from a family of farmers. Now, he’s learning how to farm the American way because he wants his own farm to grow organic produce.

He’s one of 18 participants in the Syracuse Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, a three-year program teaching refugees living in Syracuse how to farm, sell produce and launch a farm business.

This summer, they’re harvesting what they planted–lettuce, tomatoes, corn, green beans and potatoes, to name a few–and selling them on their own at the Refugee Farmers Market, the program’s newly-launched market on Lodi Street, as well as the CNY Regional Market and the Downtown Farmers Market.


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