Hmong garden quickly thrives in Crescent City


A one-acre garden in Crescent City tended by the local Hmong residents.

A one-acre garden in Crescent City tended by the local Hmong residents.

This garden was a delightful site in Crescent City in Del Norte County, especially when the back story emerged. In the spring of 2011, it was an empty one-acre lot. But someone lent the land so the small Hmong population in Crescent City could grow a community garden they’d long wanted. About 600 Hmong live in Crescent City.

Several months later it was a thriving oasis.

Another view of the garden.

Another view of the garden.

All it took was the land along with some supplies and a new fence, and the Hmong residents took over. By August it was yielding plants important to Hmong culture for foods and medicinal uses. A local company, the Hambro Group, lent the land and provided water and fertilizer, and the California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative covered other costs, such as the fence.

The gardeners planted mustard, cilantro, cabbage, beets, corn and much more on 24 plots. They also grew many medicinal plants, such as those used to help women regain energy after delivering a child. 1

It was a wonderful example of giving people the resources, and they’ll quickly take the initiative to create something outstanding.  And given the difficult history of the Hmong, this kind of asset creates one more element around which to form a real community. Since August 2012, when I took these photos, the garden relocated to another lot, and I’m told it was tilled and planted just as quickly. I’m waiting for photos to the new site to add to this post.

The Hmong, who aided American forces during the Vietnam War, paid a high price. Many died, and when the war ended the survivors and their families were driven from their homes in the Laotian mountain villages into Thai refugee camps. There they often waited years to immigrate, with most yearning to come to America.2

1. Atherton, Kelley. “Growing their Greens,” Sept. 30, 2011. The Triplicate.

2. Magagnini, Stephen. “Special Report: The Forgotten People.” Sept. 12, 2004, Sacramento Bee.

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