Htoo Saw Ywa

Oaky Grove – Karen Community Farm, Wendell, NC

Project Snapshot:
The Oaky Grove – Karen Community Farm is growing traditional Asian vegetables that are not usually available in their area, including snake gourd, water gourd, yardlong beans, Thai pumpkins, Holy basil, rosella, and penny wart. The farm is purchasing a Cool-Bot to enable them to store the harvested produce properly in order to deliver fresh produce to markets. Members of the community farm are also learning about small market farming and obtaining their GAP certificates by working with the NCSU Extension program.

Bio: Htoo Saw lived in the eastern part of Burma in the Karen state until 1984. Every year, in the dry season the brutal Burmese army increased their offensive against Karen National Union army bases along the Thai and Burmese border. The Burmese army carried out forced labor, used Karen people to carry ammunition, human shield to go to the front line, rape women, as well as using different methods of torture when anyone disobeyed their command. In 1982, his whole family was captured. The army took them to the city and they were put in jail for two years. He was 11 years old. Our relatives bribed to get us out in 1984. They promptly escaped to refugee camp in Thailand, and he lived in camp for 19 years. He was teaching for 2 years and in 2004 the United Nation High Commission for Refugees recommended him and we were able to resettle in USA in 2004. He is grateful to the US government and American people, who are very generous and full of loving kindness to her neighbor. Today he is growing traditional Karen food, and learning how to grow this food in North Carolina. He share these Asian vegetables with his family and community and plans to start selling these vegetables to other people who like this food at farmers markets and local restaurants.

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