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A benefit for immigrant farmers and the work of
Minnesota Food Association and Slow Food Minnesota

Sunday, September 25, 2011
Big River Farms, Marine on St. Croix

Harvest dinner :: Farm tours :: Silent auction
Interviews with immigrant farmers

An afternoon of fun, learning and great food in support of farmers who fled their countries to begin new lives as organic producers here. Learn more about MFA here >>

The day
Tours: of MFA’s “incubator” farm: the fields, the hoop house, specialty gardens.
Talks: Glen Hill, MFA’s director, lead a conversation with immigrant farmers about their pasts and futures.
Silent auction: Food-related objects and experiences.
Dinner: Chefs were Jason Blair of Red Stag Supper Club, Joe Hatch-Surisook of Sen Yai Sen Lek and John Kraus of Patisserie 46. Much of the produce came from Big River Farms.

Stories of two farmers

Eh Taw

Eh Taw came to the United States in 2004 as a political refugee. In 1996 he was hired by Earth Rights International (ERI) to document the human rights abuses of the Burmese military junta. For two years, Eh Taw served as the leader of his village in Burma until being arrested and tortured by the junta for his ethnicity and human rights work.

In 2002, Eh Taw and his family fled to Thailand where he served as an interpreter in the Tham Him refugee camp. Shortly after arriving in Minnesota, he was hired by the St. Paul Ramsey County Department of Health, where he is currently employed.

Eh Taw has been a tireless advocate for the Karen people in Minnesota. Soon after arriving here, he joined the Karen Community of Minnesota (KCM) and served as the volunteer youth committee chair; he later served as KCM's health committee chair. Eh Taw has been asked to speak before numerous government, civic, and business organizations regarding the Karen people.

See Nay

See Nay was born in Burma in 1975. He graduated from Ahmoe Mission High School in 1994. Three years later his village, Ahmoe, was destroyed by the Burmese army, at which time his family fled to Thailand and lived in the Tham Hin refugee camp for a decade. See Nay worked in agriculture for about 3 years at the refugee camp. He also attended Bible school and served as a pastor in the camp for 2 years.

In 2007, See Nay and his family moved to Wisconsin as refugees. They moved to Minnesota in 2010. Upon his arrival in Minnesota, See Nay began volunteering among the state’s Karen community. Today, he is the farming program coordinator at the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM).

See Nay lives in Roseville with his wife, daughter and two sons.

The office and barn at Big River Farms.
(Photos: Val Landwehr, unless indicated)

The fields.

Dina Berray, Bill Berray and Joci Tilsen at the check-in table.

While the farmers primarily grow vegetables, there are farm animals, too.

Eh Taw, Sara Chute (Minnesota Department of Health Refugee Health Consultant) and See Nay.

Glen Hill, the director of MFA moderated a discussion on the lives and work of the farmers in the program.


A silent auction included a box of organic fruit from FruitShare, dinners, a chance to cook at Lucia's and even a sustainably-grown Christmas tree.

Mary Beeson chaired the auction committee.

A Thai ground-pork dip with vegetables by Joe Hatch-Surisook.

LiftBridge provided a variety of beer.

Bill Davnie, one of our volunteer servers.

Guests talk between courses. (Photo: Dina Berray)

Multigrain bread from Patisserie 46.

Chicken and grilled root vegetables by Red Stag. (Photo: Dina Berray)

More vegetables from the farm.

Plating the caramelized apples.

John Kraus (left) of Patisserie 46 cutting his bread.

Jason Blair of Red Stag Supperclub at work.

Joe Hatch-Surisook of Sen Yai Sen Lek, who also cooked at last year's event.

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