This is the second year that Saje Dar has been “our farmer” for St. Paul’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. She is from Burma. Here is her story.
Saje was resettled in the United States in 2008, along with her husband, three daughters, and three sons. She has a 4-year-old American-born grandson in Texas, who “helped” Saje with watering last summer when he visited. Saje has spent her time in the U.S. learning to grow organically in our climate and to market her produce.
She had a big family in Burma who owned 20 acres. They grew rice, sugarcane, and vegetables, and raised cattle. As Muslims, they experienced discrimination in Burma. Her family fled to Thailand and sought asylum after their village was burnt down and all their lands and belongings were seized by Burmese soldiers. They lived in the refugee camp in Thailand for over 8 years while they waited to get asylum in the U.S. Burma, now called Myanmar, continues its abuse of many native peoples. A recent example is the Rohingya people who have recently fled to refugee camps in Thailand and been in the news.
After Saje moved to Kansas City, she grew with Global Gardens through Jewish Vocational Services for two years. She then trained with New Roots for Refugees at Juniper Gardens for 4 years and has graduated from their program. Now she is looking to buy a plot of land to expand her farm business, and has rented a plot for a year to continue growing as she transitions off the Juniper Gardens Training Farm. Saje is a master seed saver and has grown heirloom varieties of eggplants, potatoes, and Burmese greens for many years. She grows using only organic practices.
In addition to providing veggies through St. Paul’s CSA, Saje also sells her vegetables at the Waldo Farmer’s Market (Wednesday afternoon) and City Market (Saturdays). If you shop at these or any other local farmer’s markets, be sure to look for the “New Roots for Refugees” banners to buy from the refugee farmers training now at Juniper Gardens.
~ Janean Grogan