LOCAL Houston | The City Guide July 2017 - Page 18

FOOD PLANT IT FORWARD GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF FARMERS PLANT IT FORWARD’S NEW CROP It’s graduation time! PLANT IT FORWARD, the local nonprofit that helps resettled refugees find meaningful work and earn fair wages through urban farming business opportunities, is proud to announce the first alumni of its refugee farming business program. ALBERT LOMBO and ADRIEN IKABA, graduates of Plant It Forward’s first class, have long aspired to be self-reliant farmers. After four years of farming under the training and mentorship of Plant It Forward, they have achieved their dream: Together, they have formed the business “Houston Gardening Market.” On Sunday, June 11, 2017, the new farmers began operating independently of Plant It Forward. “Farmers Albert and Adrien are Plant It Forward pioneers. They’ve honed their skills the last four years and are now taking the brave leap into true farming entrepreneurship. They are talented farmers and savvy businessmen who have helped craft and improve Plant It Forward’s model for future classes of refugee farmers. We wish them much success!” says Liz Vallette, president of Plant It Forward. What you might not know: Houston settles more refugees than any other city in the country and Plant It Forward helps those refugees become self-reliant entrepreneurs who can support their families and help our city grow. Lombo and Ikaba and their families were resettled in Houston by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services after fleeing civil war in their native Congo-Brazzaville. They were part of the inaugural class of urban farmers that began training with Plant It Forward in 2012. “We appreciate the opportunity this program has given us,” says Lombo. “We are part of the Plant It Forward family and are thankful for their support and encouragement in our pursuit of the American dream.” Visit www.houstongardeningmarket.com to learn more. By Tim Moloney Photography by Eric Kayne 4.27.2017 1:44pm Adrien Ikaba and Albert Lombo 18 LO C AL | july 17 july 17 | L O C A L 19