Involving Immigrant Latino Farmers in Local Food Systems A Community Capitals Approach
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Using the community capital framework, this study analyzes two projects that engage immigrants (Latinos) in gardening. The first project focuses on creation and implementation of a farm incubator program for both immigrant Latino farmers and beginning native (Anglo) farmers and the subsequent organization of a local foods group in a non-metropolitan Iowa community. The second project revitalizes a community garden by involving immigrants (Latinos). The paper uses multiple sources and methods to document the successes and shortcomings in building a multicultural food system. These include focus groups with Latino/a farmers and organizers of the program, participant observation, notes from steering committee meetings, analysis of participatory evaluations, and content analysis of documents from meetings and classes. Human, social, and cultural capitals are essential elements for these programs to succeed. The interaction among these three capitals mobilizes other community capitals for program improvement. However, in a multicultural situation, these capitals can inadvertently challenge continuity and success. The intergroup relations that emerge from the interaction among these capitals can be unpredictable. Recommendations center on how to reduce risk in mobilizing the most critical community capitals.