Meet the Market // Hmong farmers

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 1, 2009, 3:12pm

By Zoie Glass

The Hmong farmers are an important part of the Mill City Farmers Market, bringing a beautiful array of produce and flowers, and a window into new tastes in food.

Noryeng and Che Xiong Chang
Noryeng and Che were the first farmers to call asking for a spot when the Mill City Farmers Market opened in 2006. As they planned their crops for the spring, they wanted to be sure that they had enough for this new market — which they learned about from Brenda Langton. They lived in Green Bay, Wisc., and grew cucumbers for a local pickle company. When they moved to Minnesota, they started their own farming business, and they now grow quite a bit more than cucumbers. At their stall you’ll find rare Asian greens like Malabar spinach, beautiful fresh herbs and fresh red raspberries — both summer and fall types!

Der’s Flower Farm
Der was the first large scale flower producer to join the market. Every week she brings gorgeous fresh bouquets to the market. Her daughter Ge and son in law Chee run the stand at the market. They also grow fresh vegetables including onions, potatoes and green beans. While they used to grow traditional Asian vegetables, they soon realized that it was too difficult to sell them at local markets. Stop by Der’s Flower Farm for a beautiful bouquet to brighten your home — the offerings change weekly, and the fall selection is wonderful!

Mai Thao
Mai and her family were farmers in Thailand but grew food just for the family, not for sale. Today, Mai runs the farm with her whole family, including her sister’s Maidoua and Maihang, and their parents Vang and Cheu. Their stall at the market overflows with colorful peppers and eggplants — and on some days, they have so much produce that they use two stalls to accommodate it all.

Kao Sheng Vang
Kao runs the farm with her whole family including her mother Chue and father Neng, and her brothers and sisters. Kao’s sister, Pa, likes to help out at the market on Saturdays. At the market, they sell everything from cucumbers and tomatoes to beautiful fresh herbs and healthy greens. They also grow a striking array of peppers in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Zoie Glass owns the Mill City Farmers Market vendor Lucille's Kitchen Garden.


Market menu courtesy Lucille's Kitchen Garden

Market shopping list

Oil Seed Rape
Baby dill

Garlicky Chinese Green Flower (Oil Seed Rape); Zaub Ntsuab Paj Kib
Co-author Sami loves this vegetable better than any other Asian leafy green. It has a delightful sweet and crispy quality, and has a beautiful glossy, deep-green color. Because oil seed rape in not imported, it is only available “in season.” Chinese broccoli, bamboo mustard cabbage or bok choy can be substituted for the oil seed rape.

Makes 6 servings
1 1/2 pounds oil seed rape, cut into 5-inch long pieces; 5 green onions, white and green parts, cut into 3-inch long pieces; 1/2 bunch cilantro, cut into 3-inch long pieces (about 2 cups); 1 bunch baby dill, cut into 3-inch long pieces (about 2 cups); 1/4 cup chopped garlic; 2 teaspoons salt; 1/4 cup vegetable oil; 1 tablespoon soy sauce

You need a wide-bottomed, no-stick pan with a lid for this dish. Be sure to have all of the ingredients prepared and ready to use before you begin cooking.
Clean and cut up the oil seed rape. Cut up the green onions, cilantro and the baby dill and toss them together in a bowl. Chop the garlic. Heat the oil in the pan until it is quite hot, but not hot enough to smoke. Stir-fry the garlic until it is fragrant and golden brown. Add the oil seed rape, salt and soy sauce. Stir-fry quickly for a few minutes, making sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a little water and cover the pan for 3-4 minutes. Remove the lid, add the green onion, cilantro, and dill and then stir again. Do not over-cook. The leaves should be limp, but the stems should still be a little crunchy.


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