Pike Place Market’s Hmong flower farmers adapt during the coronavirus pandemic

Pike Place Market’s Hmong flower farmers adapt during the coronavirus pandemic

On an early morning in April, Xai Cha, 59, and her daughter Mary Thao, 38, harvested some of the first flower crops of the year at their farm near the Pilchuck River in Snohomish County. As they collected dark pink tulips and yellow daffodils, Thao

worried about their steadily blooming fields. Most of the non-food-related businesses at Pike Place Market — including their daystall — had closed in mid-March due to Washington state’s stay-home order. Their storage cooler was nearly full.

“Our only outlet for selling flowers is Pike Place Market,” said Thao.

With Mother’s Day approaching, it’s a critical time for Washington’s Hmong flower farmers. “For most of us, it’s our first income for the year,” Thao said.

The farmers — whose colorful bouquets have become a staple at Pike Place — quickly modified their business models after the novel coronavirus outbreak closed their daystalls at the market. History has taught them resilience.

“My parents have been through worse,” Thao said. “We’ll get through this.”

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