Holyoke, MA: Refugees growing vegetables, that’s nice

To our critics, you see we can occasionally post a refugee story that has some positive aspects.  Here is a Boston Globe article from Holyoke, MA about how refugees are growing produce for themselves and for the market. 

I’ll admit I’m soft on farming, so the story appeals to me.   As a matter of fact, the way Obama is taking our economy we should all be growing vegetables.  I just got in from planting spinach, lettuce and kale myself.

It’s good also to see refugees doing work they know something about instead of  jobs the volags normally find them like cutting meat at Tyson Foods, working in Sealy mattress factories, or cleaning hotels or washing dishes at high-end resorts.

These days, homegrown produce in Massachusetts means a lot more than cranberries and McIntosh apples. Flourishing ethnic crops and immigrant farmers have helped fuel a larger trend that increased the number of farms in the state by 27 percent from 2002 to 2007, surging to a level not seen since the 1960s, according to a census released last month by the US Department of Agriculture.


Agencies that work with immigrants, such as Lutheran Social Services of New England, have added agricultural programs that help form business plans. The state Office for Refugees and Immigrants launched a farming program two years ago when it saw a flood of asylum seekers with agrarian backgrounds. For all new small farmers, the state offers a business training program that has been so popular that classes have been expanded.


A newer arrival to local agriculture is Lutfi Azizov, 39, a Meskhetian Turk who moved with his extended family to West Springfield in 2006

“My father farmed,” Azizov said recently in Russian through a translator, recalling his own 15 acres in Krasnodar, near the north shore of the Black Sea. “My grandfather farmed. My great-grandfather farmed. Now I bring my kids to the farm to teach them.”

It does appear that  Holyoke got worn down in its opposition to refugees.   Or, at least certain refugees.  Eight years ago the city was a hotbed of opposition to a plan to settle Somali Bantu there.   For more on that controversy, see this VDARE story by Thomas Allen.

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