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Collection Occupational Folklife Project

Finding Roots: Asian American Farmers in Contemporary America

In 2020, Vermont-based researcher Katie Reuther received approval to conduct an Occupational Folklife Project on Asian American Farmers. During 2020-2021, she documented the unique voices and experiences of 22 American-born, Asian American farmers, focusing primarily on Generation Y "Millennials." Although approximately 22,000 Asian American farmers currently make up less than 1% of farmers across the United States, they have long played a significant role in the nation's food and agricultural landscape.

The majority of those interviewed are new farmers for whom farming was a choice as well as a means through which they could learn about and connect with their ethnic roots while also processing their mixed identities as both Asians and Americans. Notably, many of these farmers grow Asian heritage crops that are central to the food traditions of Asian communities across the U.S. Many of the interviewees also focus on innovative and organic farming practices and are involved in various projects to increase the familiarity and consumption of these crops amongst those who are not of Asian descent. By documenting numerous new Asian American farmers, these interviews increase awareness of the multi-dimensionality of farming in modern-day America and shed light on the challenges Asian Americans face as people of color working in agriculture. The interviews were conducted remotely during the Covid pandemic, which despite the initial challenge posed by online interviewing, ultimately facilitated a wide geographic distribution of interviewees.

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