Refugee Response Farm
Maggie Fitzpatrick, Direcotr of Agricultural Empowerment the at Refugee Response, grew up in the West Park neighborhood of Cleveland where she enjoyed making mudpies and playing outside. Following her interest in nature led Maggie to an undergraduate program on the East Side at John Carroll then to internships at various farms, including a long stay at a seed-saving farm in Ireland. Here at Brown Envelope Seeds, Maggie learned about the importance of a culture’s history and their food. Farmer, Madeline McKeever, saved her own potato seed and even invited other other growers to use her land in order to increase genetic diversity, lessons learned from the nation’s past where large crop failure
changed the world. Another degree and a few publications later, Maggie is back in Cleveland, still working in culture and agriculture.
Refugees come to Cleveland each year, many having lived their entire lives in camps, fleeing persecution and war. When a family finally finds refuge, sometimes the culture change can be harsh. The Refugee Response found that 80% of incoming refugees have agricultural backgrounds, so the organization launched REAP (Refugee Empowerment Agricultural Program) to improve their introduction to America. At the Ohio City Farm, one of the largest urban farms in the country, refugees grow produce and flowers directly across the river from downtown Cleveland. Maggie says the program helps integrate newcomers into their new context. They learn English while leveraging their job skills to enrich our community. The beautiful food and flowers are sold on-site at the food stand or through a CSA. Supporters can expect the freshest of Ohio farm fare, but often with a Thai chili pepper or Burmese flair.