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  • (upbeat classical music)

  • - [Dennis] If you plucked people from all across the country

  • and said we have a farm, the image that they have

  • of who's that farmer would not be Kristyn Leach.

  • - My name is Kristyn Leach,

  • and I'm a farmer in Winters, California;

  • and I grow predominantly Korean and East Asian herbs

  • and vegetables.

  • (gentle music)

  • I was born in Daegu, Korea; I was adopted as an infant;

  • I grew up on Long Island in New York.

  • The regional cuisine of Long Island is pizza and bagels,

  • so that's what I was just sort of raised on.

  • I just had never really explored Korean heritage,

  • but I did get curious about the food.

  • Oh wait, this is a really good little one.

  • I worked on organic farms when I was a teenager,

  • and so I just thought like, oh, well, I know how to grow

  • plants, maybe I should grow some of these plants

  • from Korea just to better understand this place

  • where I'm from.

  • I went back to Korea for the first time since I left.

  • I spent just like three weeks traveling around

  • and was learning from all of these farmers

  • and visiting different farms.

  • It felt like a pretty profound way

  • to actually engage with identity

  • because it answered for me a sense of

  • what place I could find within, like,

  • a bigger story of Korean history.

  • (upbeat music)

  • I practice a style of farming that's referred to

  • as natural farming in Korea and Japan.

  • Everything on the farm is grown organically,

  • and, essentially, it's the way just like peasant

  • subsistence farmers farm.

  • Some of the heritage crops that we focus on here are

  • the Korean sesame leaf,

  • the flavor is kind of licore-y and minty.

  • Chamoe, Korean melon, is somewhere between like a cucumber

  • and melon in flavor; it's really, really crunchy.

  • Chili peppers, a really beloved staple,

  • and Japanese eggplant, just a small, baseball-sized

  • eggplant; it's super dense and really creamy.

  • Three times a week, I'll usually head to the Bay

  • to make a delivery.

  • (upbeat music)

  • Namu Gaji is a restaurant in the Mission District

  • in San Francisco, all of the produce goes directly

  • to their restaurant.

  • - Hey, Kristyn!

  • - Hey, how's it going?

  • And their chefs and cooks figure out

  • how to kind of design a menu around it.

  • - My name's Dennis Lee. I'm the chef and owner

  • of Namu Gaji in San Francisco.

  • (upbeat classical music)

  • Right now we're doing a really nice, simple

  • grilled eggplant dish with a really heavy dusting

  • of minced perilla.

  • We're doing a nice melon salad right now

  • with watermelon and Korean melon.

  • We have a chili oil that we serve with our ramen

  • that has Korean chilis from the farm.

  • It's a restaurant that's operated by Korean Americans,

  • so you see that in what we do.

  • The way that our relationship works with Kristyn

  • is totally unique because it's tied to who she is.

  • To be able to support an Asian woman

  • and co-create a platform to express ourselves

  • and share our story with people, that's pretty special.

  • - The food that Dennis is making

  • allows itself to just be really original,

  • and it doesn't feel like it's trying to just reproduce

  • a mold of what is Korean or what is Asian-American.

  • I'm learning about, like, my lineage;

  • I'm trying to figure out a sense of belonging.

  • The experience of adoption is so complicated.

  • I feel really grateful to have farming

  • be the way that I interact with my culture.

(upbeat classical music)

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B1 GreatBigStory korean melon eggplant dennis korea

Adopted as a Baby, a Farmer Digs Into Her Culture

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    許大善 posted on 2019/05/14
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