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Woman-owned Michigan farm a story of struggle and success, now a staple at Chicago farmers markets

Parra Farms a story of struggle and success for the woman who owns it
Parra Farms a story of struggle and success for the woman who owns it 02:38

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Michigan family farm that has become a staple of Chicago area farmers markets is a rarity in more way than one, run not only by a woman of color, but a domestic violence survivor.

Experienced hands teaching beginners as her grandchildren help out, Maria Parra is the heart and soul of Parra Farms in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

"I like it, and when you like doing something, there's no hard," she said.

She's been running the farm since 2017. In America, only 9% of farms are run by women, and only 4% are run by women of color.

Maria's son, Miguel, is a big part of the operation. Two greenhouses filled with a wide variety of plants, produce, and flowers are right outside of their home. Inside the greenhouses, they start growing more than 25,000 seeds before they're planted in the ground.

"I have small nieces and nephews, and one day I would love them to grow up to something very beautiful that we've built here in these coming years," Miguel said.

When morning chores are done, it's time to head to the fields. Along the way, Maria revealed a troubled past with a bumpy road.

Maria is a domestic violence survivor.

"I'm a single woman, and I'm here," she said.

Maria said, after she got fed up with the abuse and sought to separate from her now-estranged husband, he attacked her and was deported back to Mexico.

"One time he come to the house, and he tried to kill me," she said.

These days, as she arrives in the fields, she's joined by more family.

Her daughter, Mary, also helps while juggling five kids as a single mom herself. Mary's kids are always eager to lend a hand.

"Me, as being the oldest, me and her have been through a lot throughout the ages, and I'm very happy for her to be able to now have her own," Mary said.

Seed by seed, Maria is planting a future. This is not just Maria's life, it's one she's creating for her children, grandchildren, and future generations.

Besides the Daley Plaza farmer's market, you can find Parra Farms at several suburban markets.

To find out where they are check out their Facebook page, Parra Farms, where the family constantly updates what's fresh and ready to enjoy.

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