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"She wants them to be proud of her," Beh Say says. "The people who helped her grow and gave her their time — she wants to be able to help them."
Gaw is helping Pollock. Her success can convince prospective farmers that what seems unattainable is only four years away, and Catholic Charities can point to Gaw when courting potential donors. The latter is important, given the project's potentially shrinking budget.
When the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program funds expired in 2009, Pollock applied for a grant from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The farm incubator, managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is designed to help kick-start fledgling growers (those with less than 10 years' experience), who can eventually replace an aging population of farmers. New Roots received a three-year $150,000 grant; that's set to expire this summer, and the final payment is in limbo because the Farm Bill (which includes funding for the BFRDP) has not yet been passed by Congress.
Private donations and foundation funds ensure that the program continues to run, but Pollock expects to make some tough choices about the services offered. She has applied for additional grant funding, recently securing resources to offer Juniper Gardens produce to the Catholic Charities' food pantry.
"We are just at the start of something," Kelly says. "Supporting farmers doesn't have to come at the expense of the consumer. Urban agriculture and economic development don't have to be mutually exclusive."
It's a few minutes after 5 p.m. when several older-model sedans turn in through the gate off Richmond, their tires bouncing over the pitted gravel road. Pollock greets several farmers by name. In a few minutes, they'll discover that hail from a thunderstorm has left their kale pockmarked. Women in long T-shirts and fleece jackets stoop to fill plastic shopping bags and white buckets with greens for their own dinner tables and those of their neighbors.
Pollock stops for a moment at the top of the hill at the training farm and looks past the grain elevators that dominate the horizon. "Think of what people would pay for this view," she says, pointing out the tree-framed skyline of downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
The farmers don't look up. They're thinking about what people will pay the next morning at market. They hope to get home before the sun sets, and they know that their husbands are still five hours from being able to leave St. Joseph. After a few fleeting moments of sleep, the women will return to the fields as the sun begins to reflect off the downtown buildings.