Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Know Your Farmer - Khadija Hilowle

Each week we profile one of the seven CSA farmers who grows your food. You can also get to know your farmer by visiting him or her at a farm stand or farmer's market, or by visiting our farm sites during a monthly Friday Farm Tour event (see below for details).

This week your featured farmer is Khadija Hilowle. Khadija provides CSA shares and sells her produce in Portland at her farm stand in the West End, located at the Reiche School playground every Friday from 2:30 - 5:30 (want to know more about our farm stands open to the public? Click here). Khadija sets up a farm stand at Geiger for employees on Thursdays. You can also find Khadija at Lewiston's Bates Mill Farmers' Market on Sundays (click here for more information about this farmers' market).

In addition to selling at farm stands and through the CSA, Khadija pools her produce with other Fresh Start Farms growers to provide wholesale quantities of vegetables for schools, summer camps, specialty markets, restaurants, food pantries, and larger distributors.

From Khadija - I am a refugee. Originally I came from Somalia where for generations, my family worked on farms. I have been in Maine since 2005 and a grower with Fresh Start Farms since 2007.

I continue to learn English and also to make quick change at farmers’ markets but this has been a challenging part of my work as a farmer here. Nothing is easy but I’m learning these skills to be able to better communicate with customers and offer customer service that is expected here. I want my customers to know that I enthusiastically welcome them to Fresh Start Farm.

I know this work is important. When you buy from me, you know the food is fresh and has no chemicals. You see and taste that when you compare the grocery store to the farmers market. If you come to my farm you will see it is neat and the rows are straight and organized.

I dream of having animals—to care for them and raise them just like my family did in Somalia. This will be hard here though because to have animals I will need a home in the countryside and I currently live in Lewiston. It would be a challenge to be outside of my community in Lewiston. The language barrier is tough and I am scared to be far away from the people I know and rely on.

I also expect and rely on my children for help at the farm, especially as I get older and am less able to do things on my own. There is no question that I will teach my children farming as if this was Somalia. It’s important to me that we grow and eat fresh vegetables without any chemical sprays, just like in Somalia

Carrots, kale, mustard greens, okra, beans, beets …these are all new vegetables that I find delicious and that I grow for my family and my customers here in Maine. That said, there are vegetables from Somalia I wish I could grow here but these require a longer and hotter season.
Monthly farm visits for CSA members and volunteers:
Friday, September 26 from 12:00p – 2:00p in Lisbon (Please note updated time)
Friday, October 3 from 12:00p – 2:00p in Lisbon 

RSVP with Ashley if you would like to attend: & (207) 761-GROW


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