Refugees use farming skills at Ohio City Farm

Behind a fence around Ohio City Farm, in Cleveland, Ohio, refugees prepare vegetable orders for restaurants on a recent Wednesday, as they do each Wednesday. Though they come from different countries and have varying levels of English language skills, agriculture is a language they all understand.

“Most of the people who work here were farmers back in their countries,” said Lar Doe, site manager for the farm.

The farm is part of the Refugee Response, an organization that helps resettled families adjust to their new communities in Cleveland.

Northeast Ohio has received 2,500 refugees since 2008, according to Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland. The Refugee Response supports more than 120 each year through various programs, including youth mentoring, adult tutoring and Teen Response, an after-school program.

But originally, the farm was the Refugee Response, said Michael Bartunek, senior farm manager for Ohio City Farm.

Refugees in the U.S. are expected to become self-sufficient within just three months of arriving, which is difficult for most. Many refugees have a background in agriculture in their home countries. The farm, founded in 2010, was created to give refugees a work environment where they can use skills they already have and adjust to their new city.

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