Hmong multi-acre gardening


The only part of gardening I don't like is all the mosquitoes. -Mee Xiong

Hmong multi acre gardening has been a way a life for many Hmong residents in the Chippewa Valley since they came to America. During the secret war, Hmong immigrants were displaced from their homeland in Southeast Asia and many immigrated to America. Hmong immigrants faced many obstacles while adjusting to American culture. Many Hmong immigrants did not posses the language skills needed to have well paying jobs and had a hard time raising their families. However, they could feed their families and make extra money by having multi-acre gardens.

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My mom says gardening is the only thing she knows how to do, but she tells us (children) it's best if we get a good education so we don't have to garden - Jenny Vang

Hmong immigrants had to adjust from growing food in the climate of Southeast Asia to Wisconsin, which required a lot of learning about Wisconsin soils and seasons. When someone found a technique that worked especially well, they would spread the word to other members of the Hmong community. Having successful multi acre garden required the help of every family member. Hmong children played a big role in planting, weeding, and preparing food for the farmers market. For Hmong children, summers were spent outside working under the hot sun. This hard work was frustrating at times, but the extra money presented opportunities to gain the skills needed to obtain well paying jobs in the future.

Ever since I was really little I remember doing this. -Jenny Vang

Boy waiting under a family's produce table at the Eau Claire Farmer's Market, c. 1995
Boy waiting under a family's produce table at the Eau Claire Farmer's Market, c. 1995

 Today, most of those Hmong children who grew up working on multi acre gardens don’t need to do the back breaking work anymore. For many third generation Hmong, assimilation into American culture has made continuing multi acre gardening unpractical, leaving the future of this practice uncertain. However, to meet their own desire for fresh produce, small backyard gardens are becoming more popular. Still today, many Hmong families continue to tend to their multi acre gardens to meet the demand for fresh produce.

I know how much work it would be. So that's why I come here instead of growing my own. -Debra Hams