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Hmong-American farmers teach each other food safety

A Hmong-American farmer carries a basket of vegetables past her fields.

While Hmong-American farmers have long sold vegetables at farmers’ markets, many seek to enter wholesale markets. To do so, they often must have food safety training, audits, or a written food safety plan.

Now they have four Hmong-language videos developed by University of Minnesota Extension farm food safety educator Annalisa Hultberg. The videos were part of a peer-to-peer food safety learning project initiated and led by Hmong-American farmers, along with Extension. The farmers helped develop the scripts and acted in the videos.

During the project’s first year, “farmer leaders” attended field days, conferences, and workshops across Minnesota to enhance their farming skills, knowledge, and leadership capacity as peer-to-peer educators. During the second year, they took on more responsibility. Field days, conference presentations, and the development of the videos helped them build their confidence and knowledge to share with other Hmong-American farmers.

“I have two hand washing stands on my farm that they helped me learn to build, and my family uses them before we pick the vegetables,” said one workshop participant. “I don’t want to make someone sick. This makes my produce safer and cleaner.”

One farmer went on to win a contract with Minneapolis Public Schools. He met his goal of delivering a large quantity of produce in fewer deliveries and has continued the contract, each year increasing the amount of produce sold to the school district.

“He’s also getting organically certified, so having both of those certifications is a great place for him to be from a marketing standpoint,” says Hultberg.

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities