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"We lost everything": Lancaster refugee farm destroyed by flooding

Lancaster farm damaged by floods
Lancaster farm damaged by floods 02:33

LANCASTER - The field at Flats Mentor Farm in Lancaster was soggy, muddy, and partially underwater, as more rain cascaded over the property Monday. That was an improvement from a week earlier, when the nearby Nashua River overflowed, submerging the farm completely. The same thing happened back in July. The hits just keep coming.

Farmer Barnibus Forndia said he wasn't able to save any of his vegetables. "We lost everything. We started, and then the water just came," he said. He's from Liberia, among the 214 immigrant refugees who work the Flats Mentor Farm through a program called World Farmers. It also connects them with resources to sell what they grow there. Not this year.

"We did determine that we had high levels of bacteria, so it was said that we can't do any replanting," said program director Jessy Gill. Fifty-five acres of crops are gone.

Joash Nyansageria, a farmer from Kenya, counted 180 trays of destroyed plants in his greenhouse. He said they were worth about $50 each, adding up to $9,000. That's only part of his loss. "It flooded. The water went up to here, so...I never planted these," he said.

"I feel very bad, and terrified," said Forndia. He said he's concerned about what the changing climate could bring next.

"Each of the farmers, first and foremost fill their freezers," said Gill. They fill their homes, and they fill their freezers to be able to feed themselves their families, and usually their neighbors, and that didn't happen this year."

World Farmers does have farmland in other areas that are higher and drier, but most of the growing usually happens at Flats Mentor Farm. There is an online fund to help the program and its farmers get back on their feet.  

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