Peng Bu  ·  Myanmar

Self Expression and Happiness through Farming

New Roots Gives a Burmese Refugee New Knowledge and Experiences.

Peng Bu

My first name is Peng. In our culture or tradition, the first name represents who you are. Mine means communicating well with people, and knowing how to get along with the people around you. My last name, Bu, is from my dad’s side.

I was born in a village between a lot of mountains in the Chin state of Burma with my mom and two brothers. I am the youngest.

I was 16 or 17 when I left. We went to Thailand and then Malaysia. In Malaysia the UN gave us a lesson on how to enter the lottery to come here and then we worked until we got in. I was married in Malaysia and my first child was born there. My second child was born here.

When I first came here to Kansas City I thought it was boring. I expected tall buildings and all the fancy things that you see in the movies. But when we got here, all the houses were similar and not fancy, and we’re on a busy street so it’s not safe for kids to play outside. It’s really flat. I miss the village where I was born. Every time I see a hill or a green tree, It’s kind of like a memory.

Agriculture, or any farming thing, is my favorite thing to do. I work in a warehouse too and farming is like a rest. It’s really tiring, but every time I see a plant that I grow well, it makes me happy.

In Burma we grew a lot of staple food, corn rice, okra, bok choy, pepper. Not potatoes. Potatoes don’t work there. And here we can’t grow pumpkin leaves. It’s not the American pumpkin - you can’t eat those leaves. The texture is different. And winter melons are really hard to find here too.

I don’t have a favorite thing to grow. Everything is great on its own. Whatever I'm able to plant gives me different knowledge and experience. Some plants need attention and some plants don’t, I learn which is which and things like that.

The only crop I hate is summer squash. I can’t get it to stay alive.

After I finish the 4 year program, I would love to lease land at Juniper. New Roots helps support graduates, but at this moment I think the land is getting expensive here, I may be working with the New Roots team closely to look for opportunities.

I’m glad I joined the farming program. It’s given me more flexibility and I’m able to express myself through farming. It’s my proudest thing.

Having my own farm would be the best!

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