the good daughter: vikki cha
Vikki Cha farms in Western Washington and sells her vegetables and flowers at the famed Pike Place Market in Seattle. She says farming suits her personality – she gets to visit with all of the tourists and customers that stop by her stand at the market, but also enjoys the quiet times on the farm spent planting and weeding.
In Vikki's Words:
I am a second-generation farmer, but my family has been farming for as long as I can remember. In Laos, it’s the only way to provide food for your family. On the hilltops of Laos, there is no store to buy produce or meat. Every family has their own area to plant rice and vegetables and raise their animals. We started farming in the United States in 1995, because this is what my parents knew how to do best.
I farm because I believe that having fresh local produce is essential in every community. Eating healthfully and sourcing from local farms doesn't have to be expensive or hard. I also wanted to continue the hard work and perseverance that my parents had to go through to provide for me. Coming to a new country for them was a new world and I want to honor that.
I farm with my mother and am still continually learning; every day is a new experience. Every year is a year wiser. Every thing and anything was and still is possible. The biggest rewards to farming are the ability to spend more time with my family and have independence.
The biggest challenge with farming is always the weather and your ability to persevere when the farm isn't growing like you want it too.
As a businesswoman, the challenge is when friends ask for free produce or flowers. I want to give you all the free flowers and produce as I can. But then I wouldn't have a home to sleep in if I did -- I need to make a living. The same goes for the folks at the market who try to negotiate a lower price. They want to pay a fraction of the cost not even considering the labor or infrastructure or that I have to pay rent on land and a market stall.
I wish people understood that no flower, plant, vegetable, or human being is perfect. Everything in life is imperfectly perfect. From the missing petal in a dahlia, to a little ladybug on a vegetable, remember that everything must coexist. So to be able to have spotless produce is really hard in a small scale farm. So I'm sorry not sorry if my kale has a little bug or my lilies are pollen stained. The price of everything we grow is very fair - we grow locally on expensive land that has close proximity to the city. By buying direct from us, we cut out all the middlemen plus we really have a lot of pride in your produce and flowers.
Vikki can be found smiling from Seattle's public transportation, at her farm, Chue Neng Cha's Garden, or creating beautiful flower arrangements at Pike Place Market.