For Immediate Release
February 5, 2013
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ASIA’s HAPI Fresh Farm Certified Organic
MEDINA, OH—In January 2013, the immigrant and refugee farmers of ASIA’s HAPI Fresh Program earned organic certification for the HAPI Fresh Farm. Passing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic Audit certifies that all HAPI Fresh produce is grown using environmentally-sustainable methods, without the use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, or genetic engineering. It is HAPI Fresh Farm’s first organic certification.
Established in 2009, HAPI Fresh Farm is located on Schmidt Family Farms, another organic-certified farm in Medina, OH. Its variety of produce includes Asian greens such as Ho Mi Z (Dragon Tongue), Gai Lan, Tat Choi, and Yu Choi. HAPI Fresh farmers sold at five Cleveland-area farmers’ markets in 2012. In 2013, the program will expand as farmers install a hoop house and greenhouse. They will also begin raising chickens and goats.
Organic agriculture comes naturally to the HAPI Fresh farmers, the majority of whom arrived in Cleveland as refugees from Southeast Asia. “Most of [the farmers] come from countries where they farmed their lands using traditional methods, passed down over generations,” said ASIA Program Assistant Charlie Parker. “They weren’t exposed to the vast availability of pesticides and herbicides [in the U.S.], and so they’ve been utilizing organic methods to deal with common agricultural problems for centuries.”
Mr. Parker added that much credit for HAPI Fresh Farm’s successful certification belongs to Susan Schmidt of Schmidt Family Farms. Ms. Schmidt guided the HAPI Fresh farmers through filling out skeleton forms, organic methods of using farming equipment, and the proper application of organic-certified herbicides and pesticides.
ASIA will maintain HAPI Fresh Farm’s organic certification in order to serve a growing, health-conscious clientele in Cuyahoga County. “We want to be a vendor that Clevelanders know and trust; someone they can return to again and again for fresh, organic vegetables,” said Mr. Parker. “Keeping our organic certification also enhances the job skills and self-sufficiency of the refugee community.”
HAPI Fresh farmers grow only seeds which have not been chemically treated, and must thoroughly clean any farming implements used at non-organic sites. HAPI Fresh Farm will maintain detailed records of its organic practices in order to renew its certification every year.
The HAPI Fresh Program (http://tinyurl.com/hapifresh) is funded by Cuyahoga County’s Refugee Employment and Training Services, United Way of Great Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation and Deaconess Community Foundation; with additional support from Ohio State University Extension, Burten, Bell, Carr Development, Inc., and West Creek Preservation Committee.
Asian Services In Action
Founded in 1995, Asian Services In Action’s mission is to is to empower and advocate for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (AAPIs); and to provide AAPIs access to quality, culturally, and linguistically appropriate information and services. Visit www.asiaohio.org to learn more. Follow ASIA on Facebook and Twitter!