In partnership with the National Immigrant Farming Initiative, the Accokeek Foundation is extending its history of community education and farmer training to include underserved, socially disadvantaged, and limited resource communities through our Immigrant Farmer Incubator Program. The program serves immigrants and refugees who are interested in farming in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Many immigrants arrive in the United States with a strong agricultural heritage and background, but perhaps lack the connections or knowledge needed to successfully transition into agriculture in the U.S. This program will provide practical training in sustainable agriculture suited to this region, and in understanding and accessing this region’s agricultural markets and the USDA and other governmental programs that can support agricultural ventures.
This year, the Accokeek Foundation is pleased to welcome José Castillo, an agronomist who grew up farming in Guatemala, to participate in our training program. José was selected and hired as a member of the immigrant community to receive one year’s training and assistance that will prepare him to begin his own farming operation. He is receiving practical as well as theoretical training in sustainable agriculture. He works full time at the Ecosystem Farm and attends many of our training programs here and off-site. José has already begun his own private agricultural production, which includes honey and watermelons in Prince George’s County.
In addition to the intensive training José is receiving, we offer programs to the immigrant community at large. These programs range from practical workshops such as beekeeping, canning, running a successful CSA, managing your business, marketing your produce, and accepting Federal Nutritional Benefits Programs, to in-depth training on the USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service.