Local Food Producer Spotlight: Lee’s One Fortune Farm
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Chue and Tou Lee operate Lee’s One Fortune Farm in Marion, NC. Lee’s One Fortune Farm is one of the only rice producers in western North Carolina. Chue and Tou Lee have been providing rice to Hmong communities in western NC for a number of years. As demand as risen, the Lee’s production has been limited to what can be done by hand.
As there is no small-scale rice production equipment available in the United States, Chue Lee applied for a WNC AgOptions grant in fall of 2019. Lee was awarded a $6,000 grant to purchase and import a combine harvester that will work in their small fields to offset heavy labor for harvesting by hand. The machine will allow them to plant larger fields and expand production as needed to meet the demand of customers.
Their goal is to show the farming community that small to medium rice production in the Carolinas can be a viable and profitable business, while preserving the traditional farming methods of the Hmong people.
In addition to rice production, the Lees have a diversified farming operation. They produce Asian vegetables, traditional vegetables, and fruits. In response to COVID-19, the Lees have provided produce for the Foothills Food Hub Community Supported Agriculture pilot and Food Distribution programs. Fifty food boxes were packed and delivered with local produce for our food insecure neighbors for a 6-week period. The Lees provided green beans, corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, Asian eggplant, peaches, and Asian pears.
Lee sells to over a dozen restaurants, has been featured in local magazines and radio programs. The Lees currently sell at seven tailgate markets in WNC. Visit one of these markets to buy some unique produce that you won’t find in stores, but was produced right here in McDowell County.