News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Cedar Point

Don Drumm Studios

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Lifestyle




Recent political and religious refugees from Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal are growing specialty greens in Medina
They sell their vegetables at 5 of the region's farmers' markets
by WKSU's VIVIAN GOODMAN
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter
Vivian Goodman
 
Most of the farmers are recent refugees from religious persecution.
Courtesy of Edward Duvall
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Asian refugees are reaping rewards and shoppers are benefiting, too, from Asian vegetables now growing in Medina.  The produce is nutritious, exotic, often spicy, and now available for the first time at several of the region’s farmers’ markets.
Nutritious, spicy, and exotic

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (6:42)


(Click image for larger view.)

Charlie Parker is a program assistant for ASIA, Asian Services in Action, a refugee agency with offices in Cleveland and Akron. 

A few months ago he started packing his van full of refugees from Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar and driving them to the Schmidt Family Farm in Medina.

 He says most are political and religious refugees newly arrived in this country, after many years in detention camps overseas. He says they get financial assistance for the first 6 months, but then they have to find jobs. 

"And that's where ASIA came into play. The farming initiative here, they get paid a salary. On top of learning they are being able to provide for their families. They are making above minimum wage.

When the produce is sold they get a certain percentage of the proceeds. " And on top of that what's left over they bring to their family."

Good work and good food
  

They seem to take to the work eagerly.

But Parker has to speak for most of them because they are still learning English. Most come from Nepal, Myanmar and  Bhutan.  

Nar Pradhan is originally from Bhutan. He arrived in Cleveland 3 years ago after 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. He’d never farmed before but he learned quickly.  

"We are very much dedicated and like everybody's happy and I'm enjoying too.” 

They are growing 43 different kinds of vegetables including gay choy or Asian greens , Asian beans, hot peppers, bitter melon, Korean melon, beets, and pumpkins.   

But Charlie Parker points out they don’t eat the pulp of the pumpkin.   

" Certain Asian communities they prefer eating the vines, the leaves, and the shoots.” 

That often goes into soup, stir-fries, or curry, with potatoes, garlic, cumin powder, and chili pepper. 

A taste of home 

Back in Nepal, Nar enjoyed a special dish that he’s now able to cook here.

 “ Actually one of the national curries of Nepal we call Gundrook, we missed over here. So now we grow our Asian greens over here, gay choy, gay lam, so from that we make our national curry, Gundrook. We squeeze it and we can put in an airtight container and keep it for 15 days. Dry it under the sun. It's amazing. It's lovely soup.” 

They’re starting some Russian kale and we spot some butterhead lettuce popping up in the greenhouse, but Nar and Parker say most of the certified organic seedlings are strictly Asian. 

"Mung cilantro. This one is Komatsuna. It's Japanese spinach. It actually has some spicy zest to it. You can either eat it raw or add it to salad but we prefer to stir-fry or saute it.” 

Healthy options 

Komatsuma has a lot of vitamin C, more than western spinach. They also grow Chinese spinach, also known as white leaf amaranth. It’s technically a weed, but it has  more iron and calcium than its western counterpart. 

Weeds, are a touchy subject here, as Charlie Parker once discovered. 

"I came here and I started weeding and they started chewing me out because they told me those weren't weeds. Those are our vegetables. What a lot of westerners would think is a weed is actually a delicacy overseas. Here Amaranth is considered a weed but in Nepal it's a delicacy. It's got a spicy , tangy taste to it."  

Parker was born in the Phillipines . His wife is from Hong Kong. He says he can relate to the refugees. 
" They come here not having anything not knowing what to do they feel kind of lost .

And being of Asian descent I feel like it's our responsibility to help them out. They are less fortunate and we are in a position to better their lives."   

Susan Schmidt  feels the same way . That’s why she makes room on her farm for the Asian farmers . And she  credits her 16 year old daughter for introducing her to them. 

" She's the child of the farmers' market. We've been doing this since she was 8 years old. And when she saw their stand she was looking for people to practice Mandarin with, and that's how the connection was made and why Asian Services is here."    

The Asian farmers sell their produce at five area markets: in Peninsula, at Cleveland State, the Cleveland Clinic , Shaker Square and Lakewood.


Related Links & Resources
Asian Services in Action, Inc. website

Asian Services in Action helping in the slaughtering of chickens at the Schmidt Family Farm in Medina

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook






Stories with Recent Comments

Ohio lawmakers compromise on teacher evaluation changes
The problem schools have is too much government intervention so what do the Republicans do...add more. As a conservative this liberal style is why I left the p...

What the U.S. Supreme Court ruling means for early voting
r.gov trying to slow down voters to stop the people from voting out the r. govener

Cleveland Orchestra heads home from Europe
So proud to be a lifetime Clevelander! Yes, our Orchestra is the best ambassador a city could hope for! My wife and I happened to hear the European Festival T...

Northeast Ohio undocumented immigrants praying for a miracle
Stop it, just stop it. They are not undocumented but illegal aliens. I live in a 'sanctuary' city and it's not pretty. Dahlberg is a notorious trouble maker in ...

Ohio survey shows low-income people are choosing phones over food
Where is this study published? no sign of it on google scholar. is there a cite

The Akron Sound rocks the porches
fabulous group interview! you covered so much in so little time. wish i could be there for porch rockr.

Head of Ohio Dems says Kasich administration is lying about Suarez contacts
when Kasich's mouth is open , he's lying. Look what he did at Lehmans brothers and then lied about it all during the campaign. If a GOP didn't lie, he or she ...

Canton's Basilica of St. John absorbs news of the pope at morning Mass
Hello Chris,Marina,and Patrice, I just read this article and you all look great. I'm on facebook Jean Dutcher in blue and white stripped blouse. I"M so glad to ...

Exploradio: Avoiding the 'acting-white' trap
Growing-up black and being black should not determine that you will not speak well or will not be a high achiever in your goals in life.But society te nds to la...

Charter-school supporters to rally at Statehouse
I am on the bus now headed to the rally. Horizon is an excellent school. My son is is 7 th grade. The teachers and administrators are top notch and spend so m...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University