September’s Positive Change recipient is the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA), a member-based organization started and led by local Hmong farmers who work to uplift immigrant voices while building wealth in Saint Paul’s Hmong American community. HAFA strives to advance the prosperity of Minnesota’s Hmong American farmers and their families through cooperative endeavors, economic development, and capacity building.
HAFA operates a 155-acre farm where members can lease land, hone their farming skills, and sell produce through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and a cooperative food hub to schools, groceries, and other local institutions. HAFA is made up of 22 farming families, consisting of 128 individual farmers. Each farm is its own autonomous business; farming plots of HAFA’s farmland in Vermillion Township, just 15 minutes south of Saint Paul in Dakota County. HAFA’s farmers grow over 160 different kinds of produce, from carrots and kale to ground cherries and lemon grass. Look for their fresh, locally grown produce available at the co-op!
Hmong American farmers have been transforming the local Twin Cities food economy since arriving from Laos and Thailand over 40 years ago as political refugees during the Vietnam War. From an active presence at metro-area farmers’ markets, where local Hmong American farmers now account for more than 50 percent of all vendors selling produce, to introducing unique cultural flavors — from foods like lemongrass, Thai chili peppers, and Chinese bok choy — to Minnesotans’ palates, it’s clear that Hmong American farmers have had a profound impact on our local food scene for nearly half a century.
September Positive Change donations will support HAFA’s holistic approach to community development, which provides immigrant farmers with access to land, markets, capital, credit, training, and agricultural research.