Immaculee Ndayisaba was busy transplanting eggplants into rows on cultivated soil in Orchard Park on a recent Saturday.
Ndayisaba, a Burundi native, was also growing tomatoes, spicy peppers, and corn, which she grew in Africa before escaping to the United States 20 years ago as a refugee.
Ndayisaba and others from nine ethnic groups can return to their origins, raise fresh vegetables, and earn money on 37 acres of farmland leased by the Providence Farm Collective.
“We’re grateful for PFC because it provides us a place to remember where we came from and a place to come together,” Ndayisaba added.
The community plots are a godsend for the refugees and immigrants, the majority of whom live on Buffalo’s West Side, said Hamadi Ali, the market’s manager.
Ali, a member of the Somali Bantu community, spent a decade at a refugee camp in Kenya before emigrating to Buffalo, where he earned a master’s degree in economics from the University at Buffalo.
The Providence Farm Collective hopes to make the farmland permanently available, and it is partnering with the Western New York Land Conservancy to purchase the farmland and preserve the land in perpetuity.
The farmland costs $507,000, with other costs including a fund set up for longtime stewardship of the property, farmer-directed funds, a conservation easement and facility needs such as a barn and pavilion.