Co-founder and executive director of the
Hmong American Farmers Association (HAFA)
Janssen, a first-generation Hmong American, uses the traditional farming methods his parents practiced in Laos, and 20 years of experience in agriculture and education, to empower HAFA farmers.
“ At HAFA we have a theory of change, how we build the capacity of our farmers and actually work toward building wealth creation. That’s our holistic approach to what we do.”
How Does Your Farmer Grow?
Since its founding in 2011, HAFA has supported Hmong American farming families with a mission of growing communal success through cooperative endeavors, capacity building and advocacy.
The membership-based nonprofit organization was created and is led by Hmong American farmers.
As part of their integrated approach to community wealth building, farm members have the opportunity to lease at least five acres of land on the 155-acre farm and learn skills for how to fine-tune their business and agricultural practices.
Combining What’s Old
With What’s New
Farmers at HAFA are treated like family.
Besides supplying land and training, HAFA also helps its farmers sell their produce. Through the HAFA Food Hub, produce from the farmers is aggregated and sold across the state to community-supported agriculture (CSA) shares, institutions and retailers.
The importance of HAFA is its ability to combine the education and knowledge of its staff with the hard work, knowledge and skills of its expert farmers.
By combining what’s old with what’s new, HAFA hopes it will diminish the disparities facing Hmong farmers so they have the same access and opportunities as the rest of Minnesota’s farming community.
“ All these components build our community wealth, and that’s what I want to lead our farmers to. It increases the self-advocacy of our farmers and empowers them to a level that they can be self-sustaining.”