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Refugee Farmers in Stone Mountain

Farmers from Global Growers preparing produce for market

Global Growers is a fast-growing urban farm in Stone Mountain, GA- just outside of Atlanta. Like many small farmers in the region, these growers use organic practices and take diligent care of the earth they grow in. This area has a powerful, and sometimes competitive, good food movement. There's no better way to grow sustainably than to throw yourself into the Atlanta community. Global Growers' Farm Manager remarks:

This nonprofit farm is a bit different from other local growers. They're "committed to cultivating diverse farmers who are traditionally underserved by mainstream agricultural service providers." It's not an empty mission statement: 90% of Global Growers farmers are international refugees starting over in the U.S.

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The farm works with organizations like the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to find new growers, along with nearly viral word-of-mouth growth. Global Growers has quadrupled its yields and production since 2011; they currently have a small waiting list of people looking to work the land. The farm has 6 locations: 2 commercial farms and 4 community gardens. The main land in Stone Mountain is at the end of an innocuous residential cul-de-sac. A short, steep walk down the gravel drive opens onto a narrow floodplain that stretches beyond sight. A mixture of raised beds, sun-soaked hoop houses, and wild plots dot the "backyard."

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Almost every structure on the farm is built from salvaged material. The farmers have to be resourceful; that includes using the bamboo that lines the property for durable, sustainable framework.

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This hand-built shed, like everything on the farm, works many jobs. It's storage, sun-shelter, a break room, and a place for play.

Todd Eittreim is the Farm Manager at Global Growers. He handles infrastructure, food production, distribution, sales, upkeep, whatever Global Growers needs from him. It's a generous, and necessary, attitude that all the staff shows. This Iowa-raised farmer didn't intend to work in agriculture; his background is in construction. His favorite farm project so far? Converting a used shipping container into a walk-in cooler that's cheaper and more energy-efficient than traditional restaurant behemoths.

Todd Eittreim and the Global growers shipping container walk-in cooler

The resourcefulness that can be seen around the farm isn't only frugality- it's a marker of Global Growers' commitment to stewardship. The farm isn't certified organic - that can be costly - but all their practices fall in line with or exceed the USDA standards. Crop rotation, organic soil amendments, proper pest management, cover crop use; they're part of everyday life here. Global Growers isn't too worried about the Certified Organic sticker. 100% transparency is a driving force on this farm. If you want to know how your food is grown, just stop by.

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An open attitude is part of the Global Growers culture. In and out of the field, they strive to "learn & teach," with diversity in the foreground. Discussions about new and native crops, anti-oppression movements, best growing practices, a multilingual workplace- it's all welcome at this table.

Growth in every field and fashion abounds in this Stone Mountain neighborhood. Global Growers' work ensures these farmers have more than a refuge. They have a community.

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