Somali immigrants closer to owning 30-acre farm in Lewiston

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — A group of African immigrants that leased 30 acres of land to operate a cooperative farm in Lewiston is one step closer to owning the land.

The group that leases the land off Outer College Street is the recipient of two grants totaling $80,000. That means the New Roots Cooperative Farm has obtained nearly $120,000 of its goal of $200,000 to complete the purchase.

“Having ownership changes everything for me and for the community I serve,” Jabril Abdi, one of the New Roots farmers, told the Sun Journal. “It’s really an amazing feeling that our kids have a chance to inherit a unique farmland right here. Nothing makes me happier.”

Abdi and three other Lewiston men who came from Somalia in the early 2000s held a ground-breaking ceremony in August 2016 after leasing 30 acres from the Maine Farmland Trust. The land was part of the former Gendron Dairy Farm.

The new grants include $50,000 from the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation to respond to the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 and systemic racism have had on Maine’s communities and $30,000 from an anonymous donor-advised fund at the Maine Community Foundation.

If they reach their goal of $200,000, then the money would be used to buy the land, equipment and infrastructure.