Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment

SyRAP Agricultural Program

The mission of the Syracuse Refugee Agricultural Program (SyRAP) is to increase self-sustainability and decrease food insecurity by providing refugees and immigrants with the agricultural resources they need to provide culturally appropriate food to the refugee and immigrant communities in Central New York. This is being done through a training program for refugees who are interested in growing their own food and/or starting a farm business. Farmers go through ESOL, agriculture, gardening, marketing, and business training to learn what it takes to work in agriculture in Central New York.

There are two facets to the SyRAP Program: the Community Gardens and the Incubator Farm. One of the biggest challenges facing refugee farmers is access to transportation and land. To solve this problem, SyRAP has three community gardens located on the Northside of Syracuse that are near many of the farmer’s homes. The locations are 120 Seward Street, 131 Steuben Street, and 2033/2035 Lodi Street. In these community gardens individuals have one or two raised beds to grow their own food close to their home.

SyRAP farmers additionally have access to two Incubator Farms at the Salt City Harvest Farm in Kirkville, NY and Matthew 25 Farm in Lafayette, NY. There are incubator plots on the land at these partner farms where farmers can manage ⅛ acre – 1 acre farm plots. Farmers determine what will be grown on this land and what farming practices to utilize based on their own farming knowledge and the classes farmers go through. After the second year of the program, farmers have the opportunity to sell vegetables if they want to at the CNY Regional Market or through other marketing channels. 

Recently, RISE has started a meat goat farm. There is a lack of accessible, affordable, and culturally appropriate meat for many of RISE’s clients in the greater Syracuse area. Through this farm individuals can select a whole goat and butcher it according to their cultural and religious preferences. In addition, this program offers a workforce development program for individuals in the refugee and immigrant community to learn about goat husbandry and starting a business. At the end of the grant, the farm will be handed over to one of the program participants and that individual will run the business.

Photo by Jenny Mullinax