Assured land tenure provides hope for HAFA farmer-members
Over the past seven years of farming on the HAFA Farm, Hmong farmers have been conservative in their farming approach, due to fears about the longevity of HAFA’s land access program and whether the land will be secured for future generations or whether the HAFA Farm will discontinue providing land access after our lease expires. But the support of Minnesota Legislature in the 2020 MN Infrastructure Bonding Bill, which included the allocation of $2 million dollars for the purchase of the HAFA Farm after a $500,000 thousand match, gave hope to HAFA farmer-members. This news gave joy to our farmer members, elevating their spirits and assuring them of the opportunities and potential that lay ahead. This past November, HAFA concluded its capital campaign to secure the remaining match funds, and with the support of organizations such as Ceres Trust, Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Schmidt Family Foundation, M Health Fairview, HAFA’s farmer-members, and large and small donors, we exceeded our goal.
A dream that many Hmong farmers yearned for so long will soon become a reality and the risk becomes more manageable. HAFA farmer-members immediately began sharing their strategies to how they will section off their parcels, where they will plant, what type of crops and cover crops they will grow, drew crop rotation plans, and discussed farm asset needs during our farmer one-to-one whole farm planning sessions. Assured land tenure not only provided hope, but gave farmers confidence and agency to determine how their family farming operations will be operated.