Since 2015, ROAR has had the tremendous pleasure of growing a partnership with Cambodian farmers working the land and providing nutritious food to the High Point neighborhood. This community has been our host for Wednesday night farm stands, where they have been selling traditional herbs, gorgeous greens, heirloom tomatoes and more for over fifteen years. It is truly an honor to work along side such powerful people and share their story here. Be sure to read all the way to the end to get farmer Oun’s recipe for Beet & Kale Salad!
Story written by Samantha Poyta, Dept. of Neighborhoods P-Patch Intern | Khmer Translation by Sokunthea Ok
Oun Yeav and Phoeurn Khrm love to feed their community. For over 15 years, these women have been growing food in West Seattle for their family, friends and neighbors. And in recent years, these gardeners have worked to build a successful weekly farm stand at the High Point P-Patch and a CSA program that delivers food onsite and to Seattle’s north end. For Oun and Khrm, to see a growing number of customers buying high quality food from their garden makes them proud. They love nurturing seeds to plant and finally to customers’ dinner plates!
Oun, Khrm and the other High Point P-Patch gardeners understand the importance of eating fresh, organic food. In fact, they view their work as serving the health needs of their community. Since many High Point residents are low-income and refugees, Oun and Khrm like serving these community members who might not otherwise have easy access to nutrient-dense food. These gardeners hope to continue offering locally grown, organic produce to their neighbors so that the whole community can have better health!
Gardening has been therapeutic and a good stress relief for Oun and Khrm. As Cambodian refugees, Oun came to Seattle in 1986 and Khrm came to Seattle in 1990. Without knowing the language at first, both of these women found it very difficult to feel connected in a foreign culture. Then in 2000, they began volunteering at the High Point P- Patch and found that their knowledge of growing food in Cambodia enabled them to connect with their neighbors in a way that brought tremendous joy to them. Not only did the gardeners find a stronger sense of community that was previously missing in their lives, but they also began to feel better physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Now, the High Point P-Patch is a place where many Cambodian neighbors congregate, eat good food and help out the main gardeners on farm stand days.
Over the years, Oun and Khrm have become master gardeners. In Cambodia, the main plants they grew were peanuts, cotton, corn, potatoes, black beans, green beans and rice. While growing these crops required a high skill set from the gardeners, Oun and Khrm say that growing food in the Pacific Northwest is much more challenging than in Cambodia. Whereas in Cambodia the tropical climate and longer hours of sunlight facilitate plant production, the High Point gardeners say they had to learn how best to monitor their garden beds to account for the shorter days, cloud cover and constant rain in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Oun, Khrm and the High Point gardeners have perfected their gardening skills and the bountiful supplies of kale, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and potatoes from the garden (and much more) are proof of that!
In their own lives, Oun and Khrm have seen how eating fresh vegetables has benefited them. Here is a healthy recipe from the gardeners that they make using produce they grow from the High Point garden:
Beet and Kale | Salad Serves 4
- Wash and peel bunch of beets, cut into large slices.
- Rinse and chop bunch of kale.
- Toss kale and beets with salt, pepper and oil (ex: olive or sesame).
- Roast beets for 45 minutes in oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Let beets cool and then mix with kale. Add additional oil for dressing.
- You can also add sliced apples, toasted walnuts or goat cheese to your salad!