The flower-powered community effort that’s supporting local Hmong farmers

It started with a makeshift flower stand on her Capitol Hill parking strip. On March 25, Tara Clark launched a grassroots effort to sell 50 dozen daffodils and tulips in support of the local Hmong growers whose bright bouquets are an iconic part of any visit to Pike Place Market. 

A month later, she’s bought and sold 8,200 dozen flowers worth a collective $150,000. Tara’s role is that of a de facto distributor, and she’s now selling bouquets on behalf of 43 individual Hmong farms in Western Washington. 

One of those farms is owned by the parents of Tara’s friend Xee Yang-Schell. Alongside Xee and farmer Vikki Cha, Tara has been able to convene a group of growers who traditionally compete for business.

“They’re all independent family farmers, (so) it’s kind of amazing — they’re now working together,” Tara says.

The Hmong are an ethnic minority from Southeast Asia who fought in the CIA’s “secret war.” Those who survived were driven from their homeland, and thousands relocated to Washington state in the 1970s and ’80s. Today, about 100 Hmong families farm in the rural valleys east of Seattle.

It’s a crucial time of year for these growers. Aside from tulip and daffodil season, spring brings many other special occasions and is usually the start of tourist season at Pike Place.

“Mother’s Day is like Black Friday for the farmers,” Tara says. “It’s just the highest peak season.”

Tara is also accepting monetary donations and using them to buy flowers for essential workers. Here’s where to place your flower order or make a donation.

Editor’s note: Tara isn’t just cool because of her flower-powered community efforts — she’s also one of The Evergrey’s 422 supporting members. Ready to join her in pitching in $8/month to keep us delivering stories like this to your inbox? Here’s where to sign up

By Caitlin Moran
Caitlin writes newsletters and stories for The Evergrey. She's worked as a journalist in and around Seattle since 2010 and is a proud resident of Capitol Hill's Summit Slope neighborhood.