VegetablesWA building bridges with Wanneroo’s Vietnamese vegetable growers

Truyen Vo (Vegetables WA), Quyen Nguyen (farm manager) and Thu Van (grower). Photo: Martin Kennealey
Truyen Vo (Vegetables WA), Quyen Nguyen (farm manager) and Thu Van (grower). Photo: Martin Kennealey

THU Van and her family have grown their market garden footprint significantly since moving to Perth in 1997, aged 21.

After working as a labourer then leasing land, Mrs Van bought her first 4ha farm 17 years ago and has grown that landholding over time.

She now owns about 18ha in Mariginiup, 4ha in Gnangara and is setting up another 28ha farm in Carabooda.

Those properties produce about 400 to 500 crates of vegetables a day, including spinach, bok choy and spring onions.

Over the past five years, she has received extra support from vegetablesWA’s Vietnamese industry extension officer Truyen Vo, who helped growers and the association overcome language barriers.

“I see a good future for this farm because they have a second generation with her daughter and son-in-law getting involved as well,” he said.

“It’s rare to find the younger generation to get involved in the family business.”

About 60 per cent of vegetable growers in the City of Wanneroo are first or second-generation Vietnamese, and language has traditionally been a barrier for engagement with the association.

Since his appointment Mr Vo has helped more than 120 Vietnamese growers in the region access the organisation’s programs and initiatives.

Chief executive John Shannon said the Vietnamese expat had been a valuable resource since his appointment, which followed an extensive career as a research scientist with Vietnam’s Southern Fruit Research Institute and working with Land Care Research in New Zealand.

“Truyen’s engagement with the community and ability to provide translation services has played a vital part in building relationships with non-English speaking growers in the area,” Mr Shannon said.

“His professional and academic experience, along with his fluency in Vietnamese, has resulted in a large proportion of our Wanneroo growers being able to make the most of the services available to them, as well as actively participate in industry meetings.”

With English as his second language, Mr Vo understood firsthand the challenges facing many Vietnamese growers.

“It can be difficult to participate in research or benefit from research outcomes and advances in technology when English is not your first language,” he said.

“By speaking the language, I can more easily introduce and guide growers through the research that is being undertaken by vegetablesWA.”

Mr Vo also guided growers through workshops, gave advice on water efficiency and biosecurity, helped them work with government agencies and provided translation services at meetings.

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