I joined the FairShare team about 6 months ago, and have been so excited to combine my knowledge of HMoob (Hmong) culture with my passion for agriculture. Farming has always been part of my life, and my family carried over their knowledge of farming to the United States when they moved here from Laos. Being a son in a HMoob immigrant family, I understand the many challenges that HMoob growers face in selling their products - from language barriers and difficulties accessing markets, to drastically different farming practices.
FairShare received a USDA Local Food Purchasing Program (LFPP) grant in 2021, with the goal to help build resilience and aggregate market sales sourcing primarily from HMoob growers. I joined the team to help connect HMoob growers with resources, education, and opportunities to empower them to become more resilient in the face of climate and market changes.
During my time with FairShare, we have engaged in deep conversation with Marbleseed, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), UW-Madison, Garden To Be, Central Rivers Farmshed, Rooted, Big River Farms, Wisconsin Food Hub, Fondy Food, The Good Acre, the Wisconsin Hmong Association, and The Hmong Institute to ensure that a variety of voices, experiences, and expertise are factored into the work we are engaged in.
In the upcoming months, I will be working to intentionally collaborate with multiple HMoob organizations throughout Wisconsin, and work in conjunction with our project partners to set up grower gatherings and workshops for HMoob growers in Madison, Milwaukee, Wausau, and La Crosse.
My goal is that my work will be able to connect the HMoob community to not only the many resources that FairShare provides to growers, but also to everyone involved in improving and strengthening our food system. Because even though many of us have different cultural backgrounds, we all share the same type of love - the love for FOOD!