Tin Tun Aung & Win Mar are 2nd year farmers at Cultivate KC’s Juniper Gardens Training Farm
Even through a translator, you can sense the playfulness in the banter between husband and wife Tin Tun Aung and Win Mar.
Tin Tun begins their story with their arrival to America in October 2016 only to be quickly corrected by Win Mar.
“It was April 22, 2015,” she says, through a translator. He defers, like a husband who knows his wife is probably – and usually – right.
The two were farmers in Myanmar where Tin Tun and Win Mar faced the threat of ethnic cleansing.
Farming there is very different from the United States, they say. In Myanmar, Tin Tun and Win Mar grew long beans, peas and rice. Here, they discovered, American customers like variety.
The list of what they grow now is much more extensive. They list them together, Tin Tun interjecting randomly as they go back and forth: Eggplant, okra, cherry tomato, long bean, lettuce, cilantro, dill, swiss chard, beet, carrot, sweet potato, potato, green bean, mint.
Many of these vegetables have been new discoveries for them. Their favorites are eggplant and snow peas, although they are not big fans of beets, they still grow them “for customer.”
Despite the differences, when talking about their experience as first-year farmers at Cultivate KC’s Juniper Gardens Training Farm in the New Roots for Refugees program, Win Mar can’t seem to stop using the word “happy.”
“Doing farming is good for our health,” she says. “We produce good vegetables to eat and we can be happy when our vegetables look good.”
It’s impossible to miss her pride as she talks about the work that she and Tin Tun put into their quarter-acre plot at Juniper Gardens.
“I grow vegetables, organically,” Win Mar says. “That means no chemical. It makes us happy to bring fresh food to customer.”
When they graduate, she hopes they will buy “big land” to farm. She has big aspirations for their business, but growing food isn’t the greatest challenge.
“We don’t have problems growing,” she said. “We have trouble selling.”
They hope that their next two years in the farmer-training program will help them build skills to improve their selling ability at farmers markets and to develop wholesale clients.
Part of the training provided by the New Roots for Refugees program, helps farmers like Tin Tun and Win Mar improves their skills at farmers markets with classes on subjects like how to set pricing and create an appealing booth.
Your donation to Cultivate KC supports our ability to provide and improve the training and curriculum we offer to refugee farmers so they can better connect with customers like you at markets.