By Danielle Piraino, Produce Programs Coordinator at The Food Group
I met Samuel Siso, owner of Gesima Obwororo Organic Vegetable Farm, several years ago in The Food Group’s community garden in front of our building in New Hope. Ever friendly and always smiling, Samuel is a gardener who I saw daily during the gardening season. Samuel was often washing traditional Kenyan vegetables with his family in our garden’s wash station. So, it was exciting to learn that Samuel expanded his farming operation beyond the limitations of the community garden plot, to rent land from a nearby farmer in 2021 so that he could grow his own farm business.
Starting an organic vegetable farm in the United States today takes grit. It also takes access to an incredible number of resources, both financial and social. As a new farmer, and an immigrant farmer, breaking into the local markets can be difficult. With The Food Group’s local food purchasing programs, we are equipped to be the first wholesale customer for emerging farmers such as Samuel. This summer, we were able to purchase over 3,000 pounds of vegetables from Gesima Obwororo Organic Vegetable Farm, including dried Cranberry and Pinto beans, maize, and sweet corn. With Samuel’s connections to his community, The Food Group can ensure that these culturally specific foods reach our Kenyan neighbors.
Stories like Samuel’s drive home the power of our farm-supportive programs. We wish Samuel lots of success on developing his farm business, and will continue to provide support to farmers-in-training like Samuel, through our programs at The Food Group.