Once, when Northern California wheat farmer Mai Nguyen went to a local farm equipment center to rent a tractor, the employees taunted her by asking, “Do you know where to put the key?” and other questions they probably wouldn’t ask a white, male customer.
Over the last three years, various farm plots Nguyen leases throughout middle and western Sonoma County to grow heritage wheat and southeast Asian crops have had trash dumped on them. She sometimes finds that parcels she’d like to rent are located in neighborhoods awash with Confederate flags.
“It’s hard to feel safe out there,” said Nguyen, a 32-year-old Vietnamese-American with six years of agriculture experience. “There are already signs that I’m not welcome.”