For Immediate Release July 6, 2018
New Roots Cooperative Farm and Isuken Co-op Open Farmstand in Lewiston
Grand Opening Celebration planned for Wednesday, July 11th, 5-7pm, 996 Sabattus St. Lewiston
Two cooperative businesses have joined forces to re-open the former Blackie’s Farm Stand at 996 Sabattus St in Lewiston. New Roots Cooperative Farm will be managing the farmstand and selling produce from their farm, other New American farmers, other Maine farmers, and non-local produce and fruit. Isuken Co-op will be opening their food truck later in the summer and the farmstand will be the home base for their Somali Bantu farm to table cuisine. These two co-ops are inviting the community to come to celebrate the opening of the farmstand on Wednesday, July 11th from 5-7pm. There will be Somali food, fresh produce, and prayers for the new stand.
New Roots Cooperative Farm is Maine‘s first immigrant-owned cooperative and have gained local and national media attention for their work. In 2016, they started a 30-acre farm on College St in Lewiston where they grow vegetables for wholesale customers, farmers markets and their community supported agriculture program. Isuken Co-op is a newer immigrant-owned worker co-op which is starting the first Somali Bantu farm to table food truck in the country and grows vegetables at a farm in Lisbon. Both co-ops are owned by Somali Bantu farmers who came to the US as refugees and are now US citizens and business owners, creating jobs and food access in their new home.
“We are excited to create a new cooperative farmstand where people in Lewiston can get fresh, local vegetables,” says Seynab Ali, President of New Roots Cooperative Farm.
The farmstand was operated for many years by Blackie’s which also has a farmstand in Auburn and farm in Minot. Last year, it changed hands to a former Blackie’s employee and now New Roots and Isuken have taken over the lease and plan to continue this business into the future.
“By partnering together, New Roots Cooperative Farm and Isuken Co-op are helping to create more economic opportunity and food access in Lewiston,” says Jonah Fertig-Burd of the Cooperative Development Institute, which has assisted both co-ops with their start-up.
“The Farmstand will provide an opportunity for our food truck to have a home base so people can come and eat Somali Bantu cuisine and for us to share our culture with the wider community,” says Isnino Ibrahim, President of Isuken Co-op.