Lesson 2 – Experiences from Norway II
Dun community supported agriculture (NO)
Placed in the municipality of Namsos, 200 kilometers north of Trondheim, lies the Dun Farm, which is a community supported agriculture. In 2016 and 2017 the farm has been collaborating with the Red Cross, The Norwegian Directorate of Integration and Diversity and Namsos Asylum center in integrating asylum seekers as members of the cooperative. In all, more than 30 asylum seekers, including both adults and children, have been part of the project.
At the farm, the asylum seekers work together with local inhabitants. The experience is that the field constitutes an equal meeting space and is thereby a good space for integration. Skills needed in the field are independent of cultural and/or national background, and thereby allows refugees and locals to learn from each other. Having breaks together in field furthermore supports good conversations, as does working side-by-side while planting and weeding.
The crops are shared among all participants, and provide a good contribution to the household. The crops also serve as a good topic for conversation and exchange of experience, as the participants share ideas for recipes, conservation methods and tips for handling and preparing the different vegetables.
In addition, wild flowers and herbs were harvested, and some of the refugees would share their knowledge about how to prepare healing tea from the wild herbs growing around the fields.
For many of the refugees, the prospects of achieving formal education are difficult; however, many are used to physical work and might even have farm experience from their home country. By participating at the farm, they have a chance to use their competences and contribute with important knowledge and skills. This builds self-esteem and a feeling of coping.
In 2017, the asylum center has been closed and the farm therefore hopes to involve settled refugees in 2018. Furthermore, they hope to be able to start up a project about work ability testing, language training, and entrepreneurship.
The idea is to divide the different work tasks at the farm into different modules, such as tending of different animals, planting vegetables, mechanical weeding in organic farms, packing and labelling of vegetables, using different machinery etc. By formalizing the learning goals of each module, the participants are given documentation of their new competencies, while also trying out whether a job in farming might be a possibility.
At the same time, participants with a dream of starting their own company can have relevant feedback and discussions with professionals, as well as a network and possible business partners.