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 beneficial methods. It’s critical to ensuring food security and good health for everyone. I draw from my scientific knowledge, food distribution, marketing, and recycling experience, and cooperative community organizing background to create an equitable, ecological food system.
Thanks for visiting my website!
DIVERSIFIED FARMING FOR A DIVERSE CALIFORNIA
Farms should meet the needs of people. That means we need to farm in ways that replenish the soil, water and air. Humans and nature aren’t separate. We are all part of a system, and it is our responsibility to take care of ech other and the earth.
Farms should meet the needs of all people. Consider that Asian-Americans only make up 0.6% of California farm operators. Yet 15% of Californians are Asian-American. We’re not all kale crunching, chard chipping eaters. I want to grow food that people eat — that they know how to cook, delight in, and take comfort in.
Organic and holistic : I don’t use synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or GMO seeds. I use site-appropriate methods to farm while considering the broader system in which it operates.
Drought resistant : The only water I use comes from rainfall. I also select seeds that do not need much water to thrive–as little as 10% of what conventional growers use.
Healthy soil : Soil strata and microbes lay infrequently disturbed through minimal tillage. Crop rotations with animals and intercropping with legumes contribute to soil nutrients.
Renewable energy: I rely on human and animal power as much as possible rather than fossil fuel-powered implements.
Scientific methods : I collaborate with research scientists and farmers to experiment, run test sites, and exchange knowledge.
Solidarity and Justice : I employ fair labor practices and provide more than a living wage when contracting. I support other farmers and land stewards, documented or not. I save heirloom seeds and encourage biodiversity. I farm to foster food security for all.
AFFILIATIONS AND AWARDS
Asian American Farmers Alliance, Founder and Member
Berkeley Food Institute, Changemaker 2018
California Farmer Justice Collaborative, Co-Founder and Advisor
California Grain Campaign, Co-Founder
Grist 50 Fixer, 2018
Minnow, Co-Founder and Co-Director
Rachel’s Network, Catalyst 2020
US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Torchbearer 2018