By Bonnie Rukin
For Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA) Executive Director Muhidin Libah and his staff, winter is a busy time, full of planning for the coming season at Liberation Farms, and of projects at the downtown office on Pine Street in Lewiston.
Two large building projects are planned for springtime at the farm – building a goat barn, and also a corn house for processing and storage. Local contractor Scott Doyon will oversee both projects. He has worked with the community before, on several projects. Good Shepherd Food Bank is supporting the goat barn; a State of Maine grant is funding the corn house. In addition, a new small commercial kitchen is going into the building that currently houses the farm stand. The space will allow community members to process produce grown at the farm. Jenn Legnini is the consultant for the project.
Libah said he has confidence in his new and returning farmers, and looks forward to a strong 2023 growing season. Laura Neale is the new Farm Manager. She has plans to heat a high tunnel, or hoop house, and will be planting new seeds soon. Before long, the growing season will be off and running.
The Lewiston Public Schools and the Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative will be collaborating with SBCA, and new markets have been developed for sale of farm produce. Liberation Farms and the Agrarian Land Trust are continuing their partnership, and Maine Farmland Trust is helping to ensure future land protection through an easement process that is currently underway.
222 Pine Street office
Hawa Ibrahim, Women’s Community Advocate for SBCA, said programs for the benefit of the community include offering licensing trainings for childcare providers, collaborating with other organizations to provide mental health services for the Somali Bantu community, developing the Kasheekee program for children, and exploring a class for teaching basket weaving. Four community members will be participating in a homeowners’ class, starting in March, that is offered by Healthy Homeworks in Lewiston.
To learn more about SBCA, see: www.somalibantumaine.org.