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DAKOTA COUNTY, Minn. (FOX 9) - Dakota County, Minnesota, is home to the only farm in the U.S. that is completely owned and operated by Hmong farmers.
The Hmong American Farmers Association was created in 2011, to address the injustice in food and farming industries around lack of access to land and resources. Nearly a decade later in 2022, the nonprofit bought 155 acres of land to grow all sorts of mixed vegetables, fruits, flowers and more.
The family-based farm is made up of more than 100 Hmong farmers, including children to fall in line with HAFA’s mission to build intergenerational wealth. While the parents work overtime on the field, their children help with the work off the field such as contacting vendors and ordering seeds.
It took some time for Hmong immigrant farmers to feel at home, though, with them having to learn a new language and how to grow in a climate nothing at all like the one they were born in. But their lack of skill set right when they got to the U.S. really forced them to get back to their roots.
"When they saw this opportunity that the farmers market system has they can grow the produce, bring it to the market, sell it, support our local food system but at the same time generate revenue to support themselves as well as their family, it was definitely a no-brainer here" says HAFA co-founder Janssen Hang.
Farming isn’t quite the industry Hmong parents envisioned when thinking about the success of their children. Their idea of the future in farming was more of a dream and less of a reality. That is, until the land acquisition was finalized. Thanks to better land security, the farmers who left are now starting to come back, curious about what life on the HAFA farm is like, from operations to equipment.
Hang says, "They overcame this long dream of ‘Will we ever own a farm?’ to ‘Wow this is a reality.’"