Learn about refugee farmers in Iowa at a Practical Farmers field day at Lutheran Services in Iowa – July 15, in West Des Moines

For Release: June 27, 2014

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — When refugees are relocated to Iowa, they encounter a landscape, language and customs that may differ markedly from their own. But many share a common trait with Iowa’s farmers: a love of farming and working the land.

“For many, agriculture is a part of everyday life,” says Minah Yang, farm marketing specialist for Lutheran Services in Iowa. “Although they’ve come to Iowa or Des Moines, getting their hands in the dirt is something these farmers have always known. Once here, farming is a way to make a little extra money – but it’s very therapeutic also, a way to let their minds be free.”

Meet some of these refugee farmers and learn about Global Greens, a program LSI started to help these refugee farmers reconnect with the land, at a Practical Farmers of Iowa field day they are hosting on Tuesday, July 15, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. in West Des Moines. The event – “Global Greens: Refugee Farmers in Iowa” – is free to attend and will feature a potluck dinner after the program. Global Greens Farm will provide the main dish and drinks. Guests are asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share, as well as their own place settings. The field day will take place at Valley Community Center, 4444 Fuller Road.

RSVPs are requested for the meal. Please reply to Lauren Zastrow at lauren@practicalfarmers.org or (515) 232-5661 or by Friday, July 11. The field day is sponsored by Eat Greater Des Moines and Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Attendees will get to meet Global Greens refugee farmers from the countries of Burundi, Bhutan, Rwanda and Burma. Zachary Couture, a farm associate at Lutheran Services in Iowa, and Minah will discuss the Global Greens program, which provides land access, training and a place for these refugee farmers to build community connections with their neighbors. The farmers will then share details about their experience farming in their home countries, as well as here in Iowa, and showcase some of their ethnic vegetables. A farm tour will follow.

“I am very interested in market farming and learning more about the environment here in Iowa,” says Narad Bastola, a Global Greens farmer from Bhutan who, along with his wife and daughter, raises vegetables for an American market as well as crops from his home country. Narad is also a participant in Practical Farmers’ Savings Incentive Program.

Global Greens Farm encompasses nearly 4 acres of land, and provides garden plots to nearly 30 refugee farmers and their families. The program is in its second year, with farmers now selling at a variety of area farmers markets, including the Global Greens Farmers Market (located at 3200 University Ave.), the Oakridge market and the Greenwood market located in Merle Hay Mall.

Directions heading west on I-235: Take Exit 1B for Valley West Drive; turn left off the exitway onto Valley West Drive. In about 1.5 miles it turns into Mills Civic Parkway. Continue on this for another mile, then turn left onto Fuller Road; Valley Community Center is the first building on the right.

Heading south on I-35: Take Exit 70 for Mills Civic Pkwy. Keep left at the fork and follow signs for I-35. Turn left onto Mills Civic Parkway, then turn right on Fuller Road. Valley Community Center will be on the right.

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s 2014 field day season features 35 field days around Iowa. All field days are open to the public, and most are free to attend. The guide is available on Practical Farmers’ website, or contact the PFI office at (515) 232-5661 to request a printed copy.

Practical Farmers’ 2014 field days are supported by several sustaining and major sponsors, including: Albert Lea Seed; BlueStem Organic Feed Mill; Calcium Products; Center for Rural Affairs; Featherman Equipment Company; Gateway Market and Café; Grain Millers, Inc.; Grassland Oregon; Iowa Beef Center; Iowa Farm Service Agency (USDA); Iowa Farmers Union; Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE); Iowa’s Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (ICASH); ISU Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture; Klinkenborg Aerial Spraying and Seeding, Inc.; La Cross Seed – Soil First; Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Midwest Insurance Corporation; MOSA Organic Certification; Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES); National Wildlife Federation; Organic Valley – Organic Prairie – CROPP Cooperative; The Nature Conservancy in Iowa; Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture; and Welter Seed and Honey Company.


Founded in 1985, Practical Farmers of Iowa is an open, supportive and diverse organization of farmers and friends of farmers, advancing profitable, ecologically sound and community-enhancing approaches to agriculture through farmer-to-farmer networking, farmer-led investigation and information sharing. Farmers in our network produce corn, soybeans, beef cattle, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. For additional information, call (515) 232-5661 or visit www.practicalfarmers.org.


Minah Yang | Lutheran Services in Iowa | (515) 271-7351 | Minah.Yang@lsiowa.org

Tamsyn Jones | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | tamsyn@practicalfarmers.org