Growing food helped Prosper Hezumuryano and Rosata Niyonzima nourish themselves in their home country of Burundi and then feed their expanding family during 12 years at a refugee camp in Tanzania.
Now they cultivate three small farms collectively known as Happiness Family Farm, named for the couple’s daughter. The bounty feeds not only their family, but others around the metro area who buy the farm’s produce at markets and online.
On a recent August afternoon, Niyonzima tenderly cared for rows of chard, kale, collard greens and amaranth. Nearby, chubby yellow summer squash tumbled from vines and tall corn stalks stooped under the weight of their plentiful yield. Chickens clucked, sprinklers whirred and the wind blew through the fields.
In 2007, when the family moved to Beaverton, Oregon from the refugee camp, their future was uncertain. Niyonzima and Hezumuryano both worked full time in minimum-wage jobs, but it was hard to pay for housing and food for their eight children.
“The farm started because things were expensive here and my parents knew how to farm. My parents grew up farming. It was nothing new to them,” said Japhety Ngabireyimana, Niyonzima and Hezumuryano’s son.