Aung Thin of Karen Family Farm is living out his dream. “I want to be a happy old farmer, and change people’s minds to show them that you can be happy,” he said.
Aung Thin found Big River Farms through the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM). KOM had a grant partnership with Big River Farms (then Minnesota Food Association). Through the grant, MFA hired five Karen people part-time to help with farm work, and they were each given ¼ acre to farm on their own. Aung Thin returned year after year, and when the grant ended in 2014, he continued farming independently at MFA. “At MFA, I have learned how to plant evenly, and how to grow good plants,” reflects Aung Thin. He’s also learned which crops are good for market and which crops store well.
Now in the Whole Farm Management program, he hopes to “learn about how to use the tractor to do plowing, and how to make the soil new again when it gets old” – build soil health.
Eventually, Aung Thin hopes to own his own farm in Minnesota, where he can rent plots of land to other Karen refugees and teach them what he has learned. “If I can have my own land, it will be good. I want to pass it on and be a role model for my kids and other
teenagers,” he says.