Sixteen families who are members of the Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA) purchased 155 acres of land in Dakota County, Minnesota.
Hmong farmers in Dakota County have been renting farmland off of Highway 52 in Vermillion Township for many years. The farmers have been producing a variety of crops, including cabbage, corn, green beans and tomatoes.
“As many of you are aware, long term land access has been the greatest obstacle for Hmong and BIPOC famers to build wealth,” HAFA shared on their Facebook page on Oct. 4. “What once started as an idea, transformed into a long term land lease and now, we are excited to share that HAFA has closed on the property.”
“The purchase of the HAFA Farm is a significant milestone for HAFA, not only does it provide land tenure for our current HAFA farmer members, but it will ensure land tenure for future generations to come,” HAFA added.
HAFA’s founder and its supporters collected grants and raised money within the community to purchase the farmland. According to HAFA, Hmong farmers will now be able to expand their production and grow specialty crops.
The farm’s produce is delivered to farmers markets and to “community supported agriculture,” which is a seasonal subscription service. The farmers also supply “Veggie Rx,” a program sponsored by academic healthcare system M Health Fairview, wherein doctors prescribe free fruits and vegetables to lower-income patients.
“This is the first Hmong-owned and Hmong-operated farms in the country and so we’re really proud of that,” Director of operations David Kotsonas told KARE11. “It’s also the only minority-owned farm on that strip of Highway 52 between St. Paul and Rochester.”
“I really like this land and this area and I love farming,” farmer Tsai Hang was quoted as sayingsaid. “I am very happy and very excited because it gives me an opportunity to farm longer. Although, I’m getting older. Age may stop me [but] I’m still excited we purchased the land.”