MAI NGUYEN

I spent most of my 20s on a circuitous path from the abstract world of the lab to the most tangible of pursuits: producing healthful and delicious food.

I studied the atmosphere and soil from Berkeley, California to Barrow, Alaska, but tired of documenting ways we’re destroying our planet. I wanted to actively help. So I decided to tackle environmental damage head on, and found myself dealing with what some might describe as the tail end of food production, waste management. I traveled to Southeast Asia, including Vietnam my family’s homeland, and worked on sewage and water sanitation projects for disaster relief and refugee camps. Some people had been there for months, some for decades.

A refugee camp should not be a permanent place or situation. I began to consider the long-term livelihoods of displaced peoples, including my own family who were refugees. And that’s when I realized I should return home to serve the diaspora community I’m from.

I joined a great team within a refugee resettlement agency located in my childhood neighborhood. We created school gardens, a farm incubator program, a food pantry, and the first permitted community garden in San Diego. While there, I coordinated one of the first farmers’ market food stamp match programs in the country.  All these initiatives reduced financial barriers to fresh produce, but the lack of culturally relevant options in an ethnically diverse neighborhood acted as another limit to wellness and empowerment.

That’s why I farm: to provide delicious, nutritious, culturally-appropriate food using environmentally regenerative methods. It’s critical to ensuring food security and good health for everyone. I draw from my scientific knowledge, food business management experience, and cooperative community organizing background to grow food and create farming networks.

I present on organic no-till, draft animal, and dry farming techniques and participate in experimental, environmentally regenerative farming trials. Feel free to ask me questions about my practices. I also hope you’ll try the fruits of my labor and share them with dear ones.

Thanks for visiting!

Current Affiliations

Asian Farmers Alliance — Co-Founder

California Grains — Wizard behind the curtain

EcoFarm’s Ecological Farmer & Rancher Alliance — 2016 Farmer Fellow, Steering Committee

The Millet Project, UC Berkeley — Collaborator

Farmer Mai in the News
latimes
Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2016
Nancy Matsumoto, June 17, 2016
Nancy Matsumoto, June 17, 2016
Root Simple, December 16, 2015
Root Simple, December 16, 2015
The Mendocino Beacon, November 5, 2015
The Mendocino Beacon, November 5, 2015
Healdsburg SHED, September 2, 2015
Healdsburg SHED, September 2, 2015

  1. Melissa
    Jun 23, 2015

    This is so inspiring! I love your tagline 🙂 Looking forward to following your farm transition. Go Farmer Mai!