Southern-style Vietnamese gardens in Hawaii, US

(VOVworld) – Lines of straight areca-nut trees, verdant betel trellises, sweet-smelling jackfruits, and bushes of lushy piper lolot, which are typical images in a garden in Vietnam’s southern region, can be seen on a farm in the US state of Hawaii state in the Pacific. VOV introduces Lam Hanh’s farm, an overseas Vietnamese in Hawaii.

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Areca-nut trees in Lam Hanh's farm

At the break of dawn, the 1 ha-farm was quiet and peaceful. A man of toned-body and tan complexion was carefully picking betel leaves and placing them one over the other to avoid them crumbling.

Betel leaves will be sold to Vietnamese and Asian people on the mainland.

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Lam Hanh is carefully picking picking betel leaves

His farm is located at the foot of a mountain on Oahu island, which has the largest population in Hawaii. He grows several kinds of vegetables and fruits that can be found in a Vietnamese market. Lam Hanh stopped working to talk about his farm: "We have every thing. What Vietnam has, we have them here. Piper lolot leaves, betel leaves, coriander, fragrant knotweed, mint leaves, and seasonal vegetables. We also have longans, mangos, star apples, sapodilla plums, and jackfruits."   

20 years ago, Hanh was a farmer in Vietnam’s southern region. He hadn’t thought about leaving Vietnam for the US. One day his wife, who was Cambodian-Vietnamese, was guaranteed by her relatives to go to the US. They moved together to Hawaii.

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Betel leaves are sought-after among Asian people in Hawaii

When Hanh had enough savings, he hired land from a local man at a cheap price. They grew vegetables, selling them to Asian people because it was easy to grow vegetable and they could harvest them in a short time. They grew bananas, star fruits, and jackfruits.

By the time Hanh has finished picking the betel leaves, it’s about noon. He didn’t have time for breakfast and quickly went to the piper lolot farm, about 1 km from here. Hanh said Asian people in the US like piper lolot very much.

16 years have passed since Hanh began selling vegetables in Hawaii. Now he ships tons of vegetables and fruits to the mainland, earning him thousands of USD. 1 kg of spice vegetable costs 4 to 6 USD in season. Custard-apples are the most sought-after now. 

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Lam Hanh's farm has many kinds of typically Vietnamese fruit trees such as banana

We returned to his farm shack where he keeps several kinds of tools, boxes, cooking pots, and food. Hanh said they have been living in the US for nearly 20 years but couldn’t get used to western food. Their mother cooks Vietnamese food which they bring to eat at their farm shack.

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and sapodilla plum.

During our talk, Hanh has finished packing more than tens boxes of fruits. They will be delivered to wholesale traders. Hanh said farm work is hard, continuing from dawn to dark, while the income is enough to cover daily needs. When we asked if he wanted to change to office work, with a potentially higher income, he refuses without hesitation: “I love working outdoors with the wind and the rain. If I work for a company in an office, I have to follow their rules. I am used to working and living among nature and I’m happy with farm work.”

Saying goodbye, Hanh drives to deliver his products and then picks up his children from school. It’s getting dark.