Salai  ·  Myanmar

Farming is in My Blood

A Burmese Farmer Supplements His Income Through Programs at New Roots

Interview by Sommer Mattox
Translation by Priscilla Htay
New Roots Sign

My name is Salai. One of the meanings of my name is “stoic”, which I like because it helps me feel like I am in control of who I am and what I do.

I am from Myanmar. In my home country I was a farmer. Because of the climate in Myanmar, it is easy to plan what crops to grow. My family typically grew corn. One of my favorite corn dishes is one where you mash the corn, and then add water, tomatoes, and different kinds of beans. It is a very common and yummy dish.

I lived in Myanmar for 35 years before moving to Malaysia with my wife and children. We stayed there for four years. Then in 2014 we moved to Kansas City. It is very hot in Malaysia, which is different from the climate here in Kansas. When I got here I wasn’t sure I would be able to handle the cold weather. Now I am used to it.

My children are teenagers now, so they go to school here and we enjoy being here. The oldest is 17, the next one is 14, and my last is 12. Recently we joined the New Roots program. I am in my first year, so I have been picking the different vegetables I want to grow on my plot of land, and preparing the seeds. I am most excited to be growing carrots, tomatoes, beans, and radishes. I have been taking classes to prepare for when I can start planting and selling produce. I decided to join New Roots because I saw that it was about farming. I really love farming and being a farmer, it is an occupation that makes me happy. I also love being near nature.

My dream is to one day own my own land, maybe 5-8 acres. I want to have my own farmland and continue growing crops. Farming is in my blood. If there is one thing I want people to know about me when they meet me is that I am a farmer.

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