Wa Kou Hang has been growing food for many years. He was a farmer in Thailand before resettling in the Twin Cities where he grew cash crops: cabbage, rice, corn. But he’s quick to remind us, however, that he’s still learning. When he found Big River Farms, Wa Kou was thrilled about learning to farm organically. He’s now a third year farmer in Big River Farms’ farmer training program.
Twin Cities Green Farm, Wa Kou’s farm, focuses on Asian vegetables. Wa Kou hopes to be able to market his organic Asian produce to the Asian community in the Twin Cities, but he is equally enthusiastic about sharing his favorites with anyone who is interested. If you meet him at the Fulton Farmers Market on Saturdays or Big River Farm’s stall at the Kingfield Farmers Market on Sundays, Wa Kou will proudly show off his bok choy, Thai basil and, his favorite, yu choy sum.
“Yu choy sum is similar to bok choy but more tender and flavorful. You trim the bottom portion and eat the rest—you can even eat the flowers, they’re the best part!” Wa Kou explains.
His enthusiasm and ability to educate his customers about everything from the benefits of growing organically to the best yu choy sum recipe has paid off for Wa Kou and Twin Cities Green Farms. Wa Kou recently received the Lakewinds Organic Field Fund grant from Lakewinds Food Co-op to purchase a new cultivator and implements to grow his farm business.
Wa Kou loves to farm, but his vision for the future goes beyond farming. He hopes to one day be able to connect farmers to markets or perhaps own a farm and aggregate crops from other farmers to wholesale markets. Wa Kou understands first-hand the challenge of finding markets for the produce farmers grow.
Perhaps farmers are best equipped of all of us to weather the storm that comes with a global pandemic. They are after all used to unpredictability and unforeseen challenges. Wa Kou in particular isn’t rattled by the ever-changing market landscape resulting in the COVID-19 outbreak.
“People can’t live without food,” he quips. He knows farmers will have to pivot and innovate to get produce to their markets. But the work of cultivating food remains, and he is committed to continuing to bring food to people’s table.
What products do you specialize in?
- Bok choy
- yu choy sum
- Thai basil
- green onions