At Plant It Forward Farms, refugees are given the tools they need to launch successful farm-based businesses


Kathleen sources from a number of Houston farms. She doesn’t (yet) have a storefront, so along with supplying restaurants and selling at retailers like The Heights Grocer and Revival Market, she also sells directly to consumers at farmers’ markets, which is where she connects with many of the farmers she sources from, including Constant Ngouala, who is a master gardener with Plant It Forward Farms. His mint, in particular, is what drew Kathleen to his stand at the Urban Harvest Farmers Market.

Originally from Republic of Congo, Constant has been part of the Plant It Forward family for many years and grows a wide variety of produce at the organization’s three-acre Fondren Farm, which is located in an electrical easement. When we were on location, I asked operations manager Daniella Lewis why they chose to situate the farm here, of all places. Turns out, the soil in easements like the one at the corner of Fondren and Willowbend is typically in good shape compared to other urban land, which often has to be remediated before it can be farmed.

Plant It Froward has a network of urban farms throughout Houston, which is one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. The organization plays a critical role in the lives of refugees who have settled in the Houston area, teaching them how to farm in the region’s climate and also how to launch successful farm-based businesses while developing roots in the community.