By Bonnie Rukin
On a stellar day in early summer, more than 40 people gathered at Liberation Farms in Wales to attend the first annual meeting of the Little Jubba Central Maine Agrarian Commons. Participants included Somali Bantu community members and partnering organizations, all delighted to come together and share the excitement of this milestone.
Muhidin Libah, executive director of the Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA), opened the event with words acknowledging the land as Wabanaki land. He provided a brief history of the Somali Bantu farming community in Maine, and highlighted the challenges of bringing to fruition the dream of owning a farm.
Libah outlined plans for fields and buildings, with the goal of supporting culturally important aspects of Somali Bantu community life. He referenced a farm stand, a wash and pack station, a commercial kitchen, and an outdoor pavilion for community gatherings and dancing. He also said that community members would be able to have their own growing plots, and that fields for commercial crops would be in a separate area. Libah hopes to bring SBCA’s children’s programs to the farm site. Hilowle Aden acted as interpreter throughout the event.
After a review of the Little Jubba Central Maine Agrarian Commons bylaws and a presentation on the “Commons” concept – a land-holding model committed to shaping a just, resilient and healthy food system – participants enjoyed a tour of the farm, complete with a distinctive and enthusiastic welcome from the dozen or so resident goats. The event was a heartwarming recognition of a special collaboration between Somali Bantu farmers and allies to secure a permanent farm home at last! Congratulations to all!