Food Sovereignty: Mary Queen of Viet Nam in East New Orleans, LA

Posted On: 2011/09/23 by dg

 From the recently completed Lexicon Southern Series:

[the text below is as it appears on the image]

AFTER XUYEN PHAM LOST HER NEW ORLEANS HOME TO HURRICANE KATRINA, SHE TURNED THE PROPERTY INTO A FARM TO FEED HER COMMUNITY. She fled Vietnam with her husband and children at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. After months in Southeast Asian refugee camps they were moved to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas.  The family was eventually sponsored by a hotel owner in Oklahoma,but the cold proved too much so they moved yet again, settling in the “Mary Queen of Vietnam” community in East New Orleans.

 

Xuyen’s definition of “food sovereignty”:
The ability of community members to control food access (both effluent and influent) independent of outside food sources (such as supermarkets). Its community elders grow traditional fruits and vegetables and fisherfolk go shrimping fishing, and crabbing to sell at local stores, the local Saturday farmer’s market, and most importantly, to feed their families and community members.

 

This farm is surrounded by houses (we are right in the middle of a suburban housing tract in East New Orleans).

 

Xuyen Pham stands amidst taro plants in her home garden. The plant stems are a base ingredient in traditional soups and congees found on most Vietnamese dinner tables. By growing taro and other vegetables, she keeps Vietnamese traditions alive in her community.

 

Xuyen Pham’s Garden
East New Orleans, LA
24 June 2011

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