Being back in my hometown has been a really unique and fun experience. I haven’t lived here in 13 years, and coming back has been like a warm hug. Reconnecting with people, reacquainting myself with the landscape and playing tour guide to Kevin (who has seen so little of Northern California) has been a nice change of pace to busy orange county (where we used to live).
Recently, a college professor at the local university asked me if I would be interested in taking some pictures for the text book she and another professor are currently writing. I was delighted and of course agreed:) One Saturday morning bright and early, I met them at the farmers market where I documented many of the local food sources coming from our pretty valley. There is a large Hmong population where we live who grow the most colorful and vibrant produce. In case you don’t know, the Hmong people are an ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. After the Vietnam war, many Hmong refugees fled to Thailand to seek political asylum, and then were relocated abroad, a huge contingency coming to California.
I grew up going to school with many Hmong children, and they were so sweet and kind. I recently confessed to my mom that in 5th grade I totally cheated on a spelling test (Can you believe it?? haha). I couldn’t remember how to spell a word, and my Hmong friend Mai let me look at her paper and I totally copied it! (The nerve!) I was a naughty girl that day, but i’ll never forget how sweet Mai was to help me.
The Hmong are very skilled at growing these gorgeous gardens. All around our city you can see the Hmong gardens and they are filled with all sorts of delicious produce. And don’t even get me started on their flowers…they grow the most beautiful flowers in all of Northern California (in my humble opinion!). I bought a huge bouquet of ranunculus that day!
The book my professor friends are writing is on food and culture, so many of the pictures I took documented the Hmong culture and how they have brought some lovely food items (like bok choy) to our little valley town. Of course we made sure to get everyone’s permission before we took pictures, and they were so sweet and excited to oblige. One little lady told us that she has been selling at the farmers market for 18 years! So cute!!
As a total random site note, I couldn’t get over how stunning photos of vegetables are!! The colors!!! The texture! The variety! It blew my mind. Enjoy:)