Syrian farmers learn to work Canadian soil in Keswick Ridge
12 hectares of donated farmland used for training new farmers at the Tula Farm Project
Some old farmland outside of Fredericton is being used to help about 10 Syrian refugee families learn how to farm in Canada and to give them work experience and a little extra food at the table.
Twelve hectares of donated land in Keswick Ridge is being used as a training ground, known as the Tula Farm Project, aimed at teaching new farmers how to work Canadian soil.
"A lot of families that have come over recently from Syria were farmers back home," said Brittany MacLean with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick.
"A lot of them aren't currently employed, they are in English classes all day and they're looking for a way to get outside, feed their families."
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The land, made up of a pair of fields and old forest, was donated to the Conservation Council in the 1980s. This summer it was used by 10 families from Syria, growing several different types of crops.
"They were peace activists and they wanted the land to be used for sustainable, community farming."
MacLean, who used the land when working on her masters the University of New Brunswick studying agroecology, considers this year's harvest a success.
But the group did have to overcome some obstacles.
"One of the biggest challenges was finding transportation out here," said MacLean.
"So a lot of them were very interested in being in a rural area, starting up their farming careers again, but they're in Fredericton. They don't have driver's licences yet, so being able to just work on the land was difficult."
Upgraded deterrents are expected for next year.
MacLean said the ultimate goal of the Tula Farm Project is to get young farmers to the point where they can make a living from the land.
"In the next season, or the season after that, we want them to be comfortable to maybe work a one acre plot, and maybe start a business from that," said MacLean.