By Paul Nguyen
My name is Paul Nguyen, and I’m one of the newest Project Specialists for APIOPA. I have been working on the CSA program for about a 1½ years now, and nothing has put my work into perspective like APIOPA’s recent trip to Fresno. After a nearly 4-hour drive from San Gabriel Valley to the Central Valley, and miles and miles of farmland, we finally reached Mr. Her’s farm. As he came to greet us, our tour immediately began. We walked around 10+ acres of land in Clovis, California, a small city near Fresno. Mr. Cha Her began to share his knowledge of farming and personal farming experience.
As we were walking around, Mr. Her suddenly ripped out two sugar cane sticks with his bare hands to give to me and Kyle as gifts. That was the first moment I truly realized how much work Mr. and Mrs. Her had to do when it comes to harvesting all the produce that goes to APIOPA’s Roots CSA. Everything, from a single cherry tomato to a bunch of bok choy, from eggplant to thai basil, are hand-picked by these two people. This does not even include all the produce they have to get for the farmers markets they do in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Mr. and Mrs. Her are the only two people who work on the farm, from planting the seeds, harvesting every single piece of produce, clearing the land at the end of the season, working the weekly farmers markets, and the countless other responsibilities they have every single week on the farm. The amount of work that goes into farmer is still mind blowing for me. I couldn’t even put myself in their place as Mr. Her shared what his typical day usually looks like. To start, their day usually begins at 5AM. The Her’s actually work on the farm from 6AM and begin to take their break as the heat begins to reach its peak at 12PM. The Her’s are back on the field at 4PM working until late in the evening before the day ends. This happens every single day for the Her’s.
As we continued the tour, picking a jujube right off the tree to eat, Mr. Her shares why he does not use pesticides throughout his planting process. The biggest reason is that he does not think it is safe to have these pesticides on his farm, as kids run around in the field and eats the produce that is grown. The produce might not look as good as the ones sold at the store, but he firmly believes that safety is first.
If you are a subscriber receiving produce from Mr. Her, I’m sure you can definitely taste the quality. Every piece of produce that has been included in our CSA program are hand picked by Mr. and Mrs. Her. Every week, the Her’s load up their truck with the week’s produce and begin their drive the night before the day of the market, around 9PM. They usually stop halfway in order to rest, and in the morning, they continue their drive to the farmers market. This is how your produce is grown, picked, and brought to you.
My 2 hours on the Her farm was just a sneak peek of what daily life is for the Her family. Mr. and Mrs. Her are just 2 people working on a 10+ acres farm, day in and day out, in order to provide for their family. So, thank you for supporting the CSA program for the past 2 years, because your support has really been helping Mr. Her’s farm and all the local farmers that we have worked with! Also, Mr. Her has invited us back to his farm during the summer season. With that in mind, hopefully APIOPA can come back to the farm with some of our subscribers!