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Salt Lake City Partners with the International Rescue Committee on the City’s first Urban Farm

New Roots participants work the soil and harvest greens on one of the IRC’s other farms.

You may remember our post last February, Salt Lake City Seeking Sustainable Farmers as part of the City’s initiative to provide more opportunities for local farmers to produce sustainable agriculture. Our goal with the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Urban Farming was to work with an area farmer or organization to convert a formerly-vacant 1.5-acre City plot into a productive oasis. In doing so, our aim was to strengthen the community, environment, and well-being of both farmers and nearby residents alike.

We’re thrilled to let you know that the International Rescue Committee was chosen!

The non-profit’s New Roots SLC program, which works with experienced refugee farmers, will transform the currently unused space adjacent to the Sorenson Unity Center into an organic, sustainable, and diversified vegetable farm.

The non-profit currently provides land, technical assistance, and market access for over 30 refugee farmers at other locations around the valley.

We’re pretty excited about this partnership. Here’s a bit more about how New Roots works . . .

New Roots SLC was founded by the International Rescue Committee, which is one of the oldest, largest organizations worldwide that provides relief, protection, and resettlement services to refugees. Since New Roots’ inception in 2010, the program has significantly improved access to healthy, local produce for diverse low-income communities. New Roots farmers sell their produce at the Sunnyvale Farmer’s Market, the Downtown Winter Market, and to local restaurants and schools.

The program prioritizes farmer education, offering eight annual workshops as well as hundreds of hours of technical guidance to participating farmers. Workshop topics include things like vegetable production methods, farm and food safety, irrigation in an arid climate, financial literacy, and business planning. They emphasize the importance of maintaining healthy, productive soil with organic techniques including cover cropping, crop rotation, and composting.

New Roots has operated the Redwood Road Incubator Farm since 2010, which is a three-acre organic plot that is divided among 30-plus farmers that sell their produce locally. They also operate the Central Park Community Garden, a three-quarter acre property developed in 2016, where refugee families can grow produce for personal use. Both properties are currently at capacity, and demand for their produce far exceeds the supply.

The City’s Glendale property will provide space for three of their experienced farmers to expand their businesses, increasing the quality and quantity of sustainably grown, local produce in Salt Lake City. As part of the agreement, New Roots farmers will install drip irrigation and use exclusively organic techniques. They plan to grow a variety of culturally-relevant crops as well as local staples, including African ruffled eggplant, Tatume squash, hibiscus leaf, tomatillos, salad mix, beets, and radishes, among many others.

Stay tuned. . . we’ll follow up with them later this year and see how everything is growing!

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