Photo credit: Breakfast of Champions by arvindgrover on Flickr.

Star Tribune OpEd by Susan Stokes and Ly Vang

Posted on January 5, 2014

Star Tribune Op-Ed by Ly Vang and Susan E. Stokes

Ly Vang was Executive Director of the former Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women in Minnesota (AAHWM); and Susan E. Stokes is an attorney and Executive Director of Farmers’ Legal Action Group (FLAG).

If you walk through the emerging bounty of your local farmers’ market this weekend – the season’s first local strawberries seem to be arriving ahead of schedule – we would ask that you also remember this: The two of us have spent much of the last week in police stations and in district court processing orders of protection for Hmong American fruit and vegetable farmers who were threatened by a neighbor.

We make that request because it is important for our region to know that the many Hmong American farmers who bring so much wonderful, fresh food to our markets are living enormously challenging lives. Most people know the basic story of the Hmong – people who fought on the side of the U.S. in Vietnam; survived squalid jungle refugee camps; immigrated by the thousands to places such as Minnesota, Michigan, and California; built productive new lives for themselves and their families; and, in huge numbers, reclaimed their traditions in farming. Probably half of the vegetable and fruit vendors at the main Minneapolis and St. Paul farmers’ markets are now Hmong Americans. Please click here to read the complete op-ed article.