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.