By Matthew Himmel, former New Entry and World PEAS Marketing Manager
If you have ever bought amaranth greens, water spinach, Asian cucumbers or bitter melon at the Lowell Farmers Market or received them in your World PEAS CSA share, most likely it was grown by Visoth Kim (“Mr. Kim” to all of us at New Entry) and his family. Intensively managing a small farm in Dracut, Massachusetts, Mr. Kim was the principle supplier of most Southeast Asian crops at the Lowell and Lawrence Farmers’ Markets as well as one of the most prolific growers for the World PEAS cooperative-and one of the first farmers New Entry ever worked with. Mr. Kim passed away late last year after a long illness.
Mr. Kim emigrated from Cambodia, where he was a teacher and a farmer. After arriving in the U.S., Mr. Kim worked in electronics manufacturing, but continued to grow vegetables in his backyard, selling any surplus in his community. After joining New Entry’s first Farm Business Planning Course in 2003, Mr. Kim met John Ogonowski, who provided Mr. Kim and several other early New Entry farmers with a plot on his family’s land in Dracut. During periodic trips back to Cambodia, Mr. Kim continued to teach, this time showing farmers the novel farming practices, such as drip irrigation, which he had come to use on his Massachusetts farm.
The community of New Entry staff and farmers have benefited greatly from Mr. Kim’s contribution to the organization. Organized, thoughtful and hard-working, Mr. Kim has provided a role model to farmers of efficient, intensive production. Personable and savvy, he demonstrated successful marketing, selling through a variety of retail and wholesale channels. Sincere, gregarious and undeniably photogenic, Mr. Kim also became one of New Entry’s best ambassadors.
I recall a World PEAS shareholder meeting in Andover that Mr. Kim attended. After discussing the mechanics of the CSA, shareholders had the opportunity to talk to Mr. Kim. He described his passion for growing high quality produce and a desire to keep his customers healthy. His testimony demonstrated the value of supply chains that are short enough that farmers and customers can know one another. His warm smile remains prominently featured in most of New Entry’s literature and on the large mural, hand-painted on the cooler for World PEAS farmers.
His wife and sons plan to continue farming on the same plot, and selling the same crops to the World PEAS Cooperative. Mr. Kim will be dearly missed by all of us who knew him as our farmer and friend.