Syrian family’s first Alberta harvest nearly ready to eat – Calgary

A family who fled Syria as refugees has taken up farming near Calgary and their first harvest is almost ready. Now they just need to find someone who wants it.

Six-year-old Aisha loves to water the radishes on her family farm. Her father, Mohamed El Daher, and mother, Nhema, grew up on farms in Syria.

They came to Calgary as refugees with three young kids and finally have found themselves farming again.

“Every day, every day,” El Daher said of the work.

Mohamed El Daher says the family has been working a plot of land northeast of the Calgary Airport for the last couple of months and now they are looking for a way to share it. (Kate Adach/CBC)

The family makes a daily trip to a plot of land donated in March just northeast of the airport.

There’s some challenges, though.

The family is learning English and have never farmed on Alberta soil. But despite that, they’ve produced a half-hectare of veggies, including nearly 2,000 heads of lettuce.

But now the question is, who will eat it?

‘We just don’t know’

“Ha ha, we don’t know, we just don’t know, right?” said Sam Nammoura of the Syrian Refugees Support Group Calgary.

He’s helped the family connect with other resources but says he’s not sure which groups or grocers might buy the produce.

“So we’re hoping someone’s just going to take it all and buy it from him,” Nammoura explained.

El Daher says they will gladly donate much of the harvest this year.

The El Daher family grew up on farms in Syria. This is their first harvest on Alberta soil. (Kate Adach/CBC)

“This year, I can, all this, free,” he said.

But going forward, they hope to learn from locals and get a better irrigation system so this way of life can grow.

“He would love to find a permanent home for his business, I mean a farm with a house and a barn and all the attachments, so ready to go,” Nammoura said.

“He just wants to do farming, and there’s so many newcomers who would love to get involved.”


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