Meet Chue's Farm
Janet McGarry, CUESA Volunteer
November 21, 2012
Regular shoppers of Chue’s Farm stand are no strangers to bok choy, Chinese long beans, and daikon radish, but it took some education to introduce uninitiated eaters to the world of Asian vegetables.
“For the first few years, we had to explain to customers how to cook and use them,” says Kong Moua, one of eleven siblings who run Chue’s Farm with their parents, Peter and Cha. “The vegetables were something different that they were not accustomed to eating. Once they tried them, they liked them.”
Based in Fresno, where more than 2,000 acres of Asian vegetables are grown, the Mouas are part of the country’s largest community of Hmong people. “People assume that we are Chinese or maybe Mongolian,” Kong laughs as he explains common misunderstandings about the Hmong. In fact, the Hmong people are an ethnic Laotian minority. Thousands of Hmong immigrated to the United States in the 1970s as political refugees, escaping persecution after the Vietnam War.
When the Moua family started selling Asian specialty vegetables and herbs at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in 1992, most of their customers were Asian. Today, the farm’s customers are a more heterogeneous group. A few vegetables, such as bitter melon, are still purchased mostly by Asian customers, though they’re winning new converts, especially among chefs. “Bitter melons are an acquired taste,” admits Kong.