It’s hard to walk through Pike Place Market without marveling at the thousands of fresh flowers that are meticulously arranged.
About 80% of the flower stands at Pike Place Market and farmers markets throughout the region are owned by Hmong farmers.
Hmong culture is deeply rooted in growing food and flowers to nourish their bodies and spirit.
Hmong refugees first came to Seattle in the early 1970s from Laos. (Jump to our Q&A to learn more about Hmong history!) Since 80-90% of Hmong people farmed back in Laos, it was natural for them to find work farming in the Seattle area.
Initially, Hmong farmers primarily grew vegetables, but in the mid-80s, with the help of the Indochina Farm Project, they found a niche growing and selling flowers at local farmers’ markets and Pike Place Market.
Today, there are around 80 Hmong farms in the region! Most of these farms are small organic farms, owned and fully operated by Hmong refugees and their families. They do everything from tilling the earth and planting seeds, to harvesting and transporting the delicate flowers, to arranging and selling gorgeous bouquets, to managing their business.
We had the chance to have a Roadside Chat with Cynthia Yongvang who is the Executive Director of the Hmong Association of Washington and learn a little more about their work to ensure Hmong culture in Washington lives on.
Repost from: South Seattle Emerald
by Kamna Shastri
There are four main ingredients in Friendly Vang-Johnson’s upcoming CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program: family, Hmong farmers, youth, and giving back to the community. Rooted in goodwill and mutual aid, Friendly Hmong Farms’ CSA is intergenerational and empowers youth and centers food justice while providing the Northwest’s Hmong farmers with a steady source of income. The boxes will be full to the brim with local staples as well as culturally relevant produce grown by Hmong farmers of the Puget Sound region. Signups began March 4 and boxes will be available throughout the greater Seattle area beginning the first week of April.
Friendly Hmong Farms’ CSA program was born out of 2020’s bittersweet mutual aid efforts to support Hmong farmers whose guaranteed sources of income were challenged during the pandemic as farmers markets closed and saw dwindling sales. It was also inspired by Vang-Johnson’s personal desire to have family close by, to have an inclusive space for her children and other BIPOC youth, and to give back to a network of frontline workers and BIPOC people who have kept the world turning even during a life-threatening pandemic.
Asian American businesses are besieged by racism that leaves them open to attacks and by economic stereotypes that render them forgotten.
Roy Kim knew back in December that something had changed. The operating manager of Dong Il Jang, the 41-year-old restaurant in Los Angeles’s Koreatown neighborhood and one of the city’s longest-running Korean restaurants, was noticing declining clientele, beginning with their Chinese regulars.
The profits he’d expected the business to make during the Christmas rush never materialized, and the loss set the tenor for what was to come. As news of the coronavirus began to radiate out from China and dominate the news cycle, fear of its spread in the US followed.
Koreatown’s small businesses, like in other Asian enclaves across the country, began to feel the economic fallout at least a month before shutdown orders began in March, as associations between Asians and contagion began to foment. Alongside media outlets singling out Asians as the “face” of the coronavirus in early coverage, the use of racist terms like “China virus” has also grown, further linking the virus to anything and anyone with Chinese identity — and, by extension, anyone who can be mistaken for Chinese.
After the city closed dining rooms twice, first in March and again in July, Kim and his parents — who founded the restaurant in 1979 — made the decision to close the business for good in August. It joins a steadily growing list of longtime and celebrated Koreatown restaurants that have shuttered due to the pandemic.
Repost from West Seattle Blog
Need some more brightness after all these smoke-hazed days? Beautiful flowers like that can help – but they don’t just magically appear at local markets. They are grown on small farms. And like so many, those farmers have been hard-hit in these times. So they’re having a flower fundraiser, with online orders through tomorrow, and a Saturday pickup spot in White Center. Explains Cynthia Yongvang of the Hmong Association of Washington, who emailed to let us know abut this: “Our fundraiser would benefit both the Hmong flower farmers who are struggling financially during this pandemic and also our 4 very small communities (Mien, Hmong, Khmu, and Lao) in the Puget Sound area by providing rental-assistance relief to families in need so that they won’t be displaced during this time.” The order form is here, and it explains, “This weekend, based on the farmers’ selection of flowers, the mix bouquets will include sunflowers, dahlias, lilies, phlox, statice , snapdragons, gladiolus and greenery for $25, with $10 of every bouquet going to our rental assistance program.” Orders will be accepted until 3 pm tomorrow (Thursday, September 17th), with pickup options (also listed on the order form) including 9 am-noon Saturday in White Center.
Repost from King 5
Author: Ellen Meny (KING 5), KING 5 Evening (KING 5)
With fewer markets and fewer shoppers, the Hmong farmers behind the iconic flower bouquets are hurting - but thanks to a woman in Lake City, there's a way to help.