Guide to Asian Specialty Vegetables in the Central Valley, CA
This leaflet made possible through a grant from The Great Valley Center, Modesto, CA
And assistance from the Small Farm Center, Davis, CA
Fresno County has the largest number of Asian farm operators in California. Tulare, Merced, and San Joaquin counties also have high numbers of Asian farmers. This accounts for the significant acreage of Asian specialty crops being grown in the county and the Central Valley. As seen in the examples, below there are over 2000 acres of Asian vegetables in Fresno alone:
- Chinese long beans 128 acres (2000 crop year)
- Bittermelon 86 acres
- Bok choy 82 acres
- Daikon 137 acres
- Oriental eggplant 111 acres
- Gailon 238 acres
- Lemon grass 68 acres
- Donqua 42 acres
- Moqua 50 acres
- Opo 35 acres
- Sugar peas 138 acres
- Sinqua 44 acres
Others include you choy, gai choy, Ceylon spinach, water spinach, okra leaf, sugar cane, taro, mustard greens, medicinal herbs, basils (holy, Thai), burdock, Amaranth, multiplier onions, water chestnuts, Chinese cabbage, Japanese pumpkin, chayote, water cress, various other beans, and snake gourd.
Fresno county has over 4,000 small family farmers (about 62% of all farms) according to the 1997 Ag Census. Almost half of all family farms are operated by minorities (54% Asian, 42% Hispanic). About 62% of the Asian farmers are Hmong from the mountain regions of Laos and 30% are Lao, from the lowlands of Laos.
What's In A Name?
Common names (and spellings) vary widely depending on the ethnic group and area. Sinqua (Luffa acutangula) for example, is also called sing gua, see gwa, see kwa, shinqua, si gua, Chinese okra, angled luffa, vegetable sponge, and loofah……..Donqua (Benincasa hispida) is also called don gua, winter melon, and doongua.