Seattle City Series

The Hmong Flower Farmers of Seattle

June 8, 2015, 11:40 a.m.

Seattle, Wa.—Scott Chang grew up among the tulips and ir­ises at Pike Place Mar­ket. The 30-year-old Seattle nat­ive re­mem­bers tak­ing naps in one of the flower stalls as a tod­dler while his moth­er sold their bunches.

Chang’s par­ents were among the first Hmong refugees from Laos to start selling the mar­ket’s fam­ous bou­quets in the late 1980s. Now roughly 40 per­cent of the dozens of flower vendors at the mar­ket are Hmong.

Many are now second-gen­er­a­tion Hmong refugees, like Chang. He still helps his mom pick the flowers every even­ing at their farm out­side Seattle and then ar­ranges bou­quets the next morn­ing to sell at the mar­ket.

“As long as I can re­mem­ber, I was al­ways on the farm or here,” says Chang, ar­ran­ging tulips at his fam­ily’s mar­ket stall early in the morn­ing.

Since the early 1980s, King County has been home to a grow­ing num­ber of In­doch­inese farm­ers, mostly Hmong and Mien refugees from North­ern Laos. In 2013, there were an es­tim­ated 1,721 Lao­tians liv­ing in Seattle, ac­cord­ing to Census data—about 2 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.

Chang’s par­ents began farm­ing in 1986 with oth­er refugees through a land co-op called the In­doch­inese Farm Pro­ject. The 18-acre par­cel of land, owned by King County, sits along the Sammam­ish River, south of Seattle. The pro­ject was fun­ded in part by King County and the Pike Place Mar­ket Pre­ser­va­tion and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity as a way to al­low Hmong refugees to be self suf­fi­cient.

Many of these farm­ers have made enough money over the years to send their kids to col­lege, says Emily Craw­ford, mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager for the mar­ket. But oth­ers, like Chang, can’t ima­gine leav­ing the fam­ily busi­ness.

“If every­body stops after this gen­er­a­tion, then it would be sad to see the whole Hmong com­munity dis­ap­pear from the mar­ket,” says Chang. “I don’t think it’s go­ing to hap­pen. There are enough of us who do want to con­tin­ue on, even though it’s hard work.”

What We're Following See More »
PICTURE IS CLOUDIER ON OBSTRUCTION
Mueller: No Evidence of Collusion
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The investigation led by Robert S. Mueller III found that neither President Trump nor any of his aides conspired or coordinated with the Russian government’s 2016 election interference, according to a summary of the special counsel’s findings made public on Sunday by Attorney General William P. Barr. The summary also said that the special counsel’s team lacked sufficient evidence to establish that President Trump illegally obstructed justice, but added that Mr. Mueller’s team stopped short of exonerating Mr. Trump." Read Barr's summary here.

Source:
MUELLER "DOES NOT EXONERATE" TRUMP OF OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE, FINDS NO CONCRETE COLLUSION
Barr Releases Mueller Summary Letter to Congrees
16 hours ago
THE LATEST
BARR MAY BRIEF CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS THIS WEEKEND
Mueller Reports
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has delivered a report on his inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election to Attorney General William P. Barr ... Barr told congressional leaders in a letter late Friday that he may brief them within days on the special counsel’s findings. 'I may be in a position to advise you of the special counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend,' he wrote in a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary committees. It is up to Mr. Barr how much of the report to share with Congress and, by extension, the American public. The House voted unanimously in March on a nonbinding resolution to make public the report’s findings, an indication of the deep support within both parties to air whatever evidence prosecutors uncovered."

×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login