Lue Lor (left) and Kia Chang (right), Early Birds Farm

Farmers Lue Lor & Kia Chang grow many of the fresh, organic veggies you’ll find in your weekly CSA shares. A few years ago, Lue was introduced to the Big River Farms (BRF) education program through friends. Lue and Kia started farming here as “The Early Birds” on a quarter-acre, but quickly felt the desire to expand. They currently grow on five acres here.

Kia poses before harvesting broccoli.

Every day, in pursuit of their dreams, they are “up before the sun,” says their son Houa, hence their farm name. You have to “beat the heat if you love farming the land,” says Lue. A man with “a passion for the outdoors, the sun and the wind,” Lue has found his work at BRF to be very satisfying. They plan to eventually acquire their own farmland, which will enable them to give back and contribute to community health while feeding their own family.

Lue has passed wisdom onto his children acquired during his life’s journey. Houa, his second born, says that chief among the values he’s taken from his father are patience and diligence. Farming “takes a lot of work,” says Houa. The work is often invisible, and many consumers underestimate the intense amount of labor involved.

For his part, Lue thinks it is unfortunate that so many people gravitate toward conventional produce that looks beautiful but lacks taste and nutritional value. If they could only do a taste comparison, Lue believes, they’d make different choices. He also wishes people could see crops growing firsthand to get exposure little-by-little over time. As Lue and Kia note, most consumers don’t realize that planting begins in January, or that farmers often work nights and weekends in addition to second or third jobs to make ends meet. Lue adds: “Farmers survive heat, darkness, and rain,” and they do it with “love, passion, and care.” 

Lue packs green beans to donate to The Food Group’s food shelf partners.

“Farmers survive heat, darkness, and rain,” and they do it with “love, passion, and care.” 

Lue Lor, Early Birds Farm

We Value Nutritious Food
Working with our community partners, The Food Group buys, gleans, grows, and processes fresh produce.

Food Bank
or Food Shelf?
The Food Group is a food bank that supplies other hunger relief agencies with fresh produce, frozen meat, grocery staples, and other household necessities. Food shelves distribute free food to individuals and families in their local communities.

The Food Group believes in food equity. They believe in culturally specific foods. They believe in meeting people where they are at. And most of all, they believe in dignity.

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Did You Know?
Over 20% of Black households and 19% of Latinx households report food insecurity, compared to 10% of white households.

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The Food Group

We’re a nonprofit working at the intersection of equity and access to fresh, sustainable foods. From farming to distribution, we provide fresh food across MN and WI.

The Food Group is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. EIN 41-1246504 Contributions are tax-deductible to the full amount provided by the law.

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