In 1975 The Mouas narrowly escape Vietnam, surviving on jungle nutrition for four months.
After surviving an ambush, the Mouas cross the Makong river into the Thailand refugee camps.
For their allegiance and acts of bravery during the war, the Mouas are granted US citizenship.
Mouas move to Madison and have the freedom to once again pursue their love for organic farming.
In the humid summers of Madison, Wisconsin, on a quiet plot of land a few miles off highway 14, you will find a gardening couple like no other. Mee Thao and Chuechoular Moua of Laos have lovingly and carefully worked together to garden their organic farm. The Moua Family Farms as it's locally known, is a small-scale sustainable garden selling fresh seasonal produce and flowers in Madison’s farmers market scene. Little has been known about the Mouas' inspiring journey to the USA and their path to organic farming until now. This is their inspiring true-story of survival, hope, love, and their undeniable passion for organic sustainable farming.
Farming is one of the most labor intensive jobs in our country, and it's no easier for a smaller operation like the Mouas. The Mouas use farming techniques that date back centuries from Laos. Much of their farming is done by hand and without the use of modern technology. It's not unusual for the Moua's to work 16 hours or more during their peak seasons. When broken down to an hourly wage, they make no more than $1.76. For most of us, that value proposition does not seem worth it, but for the Mouas, there is no greater joy than farming together. To them, farming is not only a necessity, it is a spiritual and meditative expression of life.
The Mouas' history and values are reflected in their farming. From their early days in Laos and escaping Communist persecution, the Mouas have intrinsically learned the value of living efficiently for survival. Their hard learned lessons have never been forgotten–saving any way they can is a priority. Here is what a day in their shoes looks like.
Since modern technology is used sparingly in their gardens and everything that the Moua family grows is organic, they have to be extra vigilant and intentional when it comes to energy and cost efficiency. That means saving wherever they can to maximize their resources. One way the Mouas save and maximize their operation is by reducing their energy bill by replacing older lights with LED bulbs. To learn how you can save energy and money by switching to LED lighting watch this video. If you are ready to make the switch today, order your free LED pack from Focus on Energy.
In addition to switching out old bulbs for new LEDs, another simple but insightful cost saving practice is utilizing your kitchen's ventilation system. The Mouas do a lot of cooking and all that food can generate some serious heat in the house. By using their ventilator, the Mouas are able to keep their room temperatures nice and cool, limiting their use of air conditioning. A good ventilator will suck in all that unwanted hot and sometimes polluted air that often occurs over the stove and it's more efficient than turning on the AC.
By nature of their farming operation, you can imagine that the Moua's need to store a lot of their produce. Investing in appliances with energy star labels is a great way to minimize energy from large appliances like refrigerators and freezers while preserving produce and food. The Mouas are meticulous about storing all their foods in tight closed containers. This practice prevents moisture being released from their foods, preventing their refrigerator's compressor from overworking. This lowers energy use and extends the life of their appliance.
Every morning, before the Mouas leave to farm they do a room check to make sure all their lights are off and devices are unplugged because many appliances and electronic equipment use electricity even when turned off what is known as phantom energy. Room checks are a simple but very effective practice; It is one of the easiest ways to start lowering your energy costs and prevent needless spending. The Mouas morning routine allows them to lower their energy bill in various ways, helping them reinvest their savings into what they love most: organic farming.
The Mouas morning routine helps them lower their energy bill in various ways helping them reinvest their savings into what they love most, organic farming.
When most of us consider farming and agriculture, it may conjure images of large sprinkler systems–a luxury that the Mouas cannot afford. Fortunately, the Moua Family brings with them a rich and ancient tradition of gardening which is similar to dryland farming. It does not require the implementation of an irrigation system and is wholly dependent on natural rainfall and moisture levels in the air. This ancient practice, which has been past down from generation to generation, supports modern water conservation efforts which in turn saves utility costs and is environmentally sustainable. To learn more on how you can support water conservation efforts in our community please visit Madison Water Utility.
This ancient practice is not only sustainable but done with great love. It's not uncommon to hear the Mouas singing blessings unto their crops while handpicking every fruit and vegetable adding a layer of care and attentiveness rarely seen in today's farming world. Nothing is left to machines; everything is hand curated and picked fresh by the Moua Family. It's no wonder that year after year, the Mouas have produced highly sought after organic foods and flowers in Madison. And now, you can enjoy the fruits of their labor by visiting the Dane County Farmers Market.
"As long as I can remember, my parents farmed to provide for our family. Now farming is a part of me, and I enjoy doing it." - Mee Thao Moua
You just stepped into the shoes of the Moua Family and learned a few tips along the way to help you reinvest your energy and resources into the things you really care about. We just scratched the surface and there are many more ways you can begin saving. To learn more about energy saving tips, you can email Ask The Expert at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Home Energy Line at 608-252-7117 or 1-800-245-1125. Drop us a line and learn more ways you can start to free yourself up to do what you love!