by Bonnie Rukin

If you haven’t yet tried a Somali flint corn tortilla from Tortilleria Pachanga, described in May’s edition of Amjambo Africa, I encourage you to try one soon!

Liberation Farms’ Somali Bantu farmers are blending cultures as they create new flint corn products for Maine markets. They have developed the tortillas in partnership with Lynne Rowe of Tortilleria Pachanga in Portland, and the product is sold throughout Maine at food co-ops, natural food stores, and online markets, such as The Lost Kitchen Online Farmers’ Market and the Maine Market Box.

Recently, Muhidin Libah, the Executive Director of the Somali Bantu Community Association (SBCA), the organization that oversees the farm enterprise, has entered into a contract with Amber Lambke of Maine Grains in Skowhegan, to process flint corn and create packages of corn meal for retail sales. Other marketing ideas in discussion are including flint cornmeal in CSAs at Songbird Farm and Fresh Start Farm. Libah and Farm Manager Hassan Barjin are excited about this year’s crop, and they are eager to expand production and markets when they move to a permanent farm home in Wales, Maine, at the end of this year.

Liberation Farms has also been part of a postharvest grains pilot project since last year, spearheaded by the Maine Grain Alliance, in collaboration with Slow Money Maine and farm consultant Mark Fulford. With the introduction of improved grain cleaning, drying, and storing strategies, the farm has been able to have a consistent and high-quality product ready to command a good price in the marketplace. Somali Bantu farmers continue to use traditional growing practices while reaping benefits of more contemporary techniques to enhance their product for sale. Their corn contributes to food security for families in the Lewiston community and is providing income through market development.

SBCA Farm Manager Lana Dracup and Market Coordinator Kristina Kalolo both men said they are excited about the transformation already underway this season, related to farming and marketing practices. They also are delighted to note community support for this enterprise, which suggests an abundant and satisfying growing season for Liberation Farms ahead.