We had the good fortune of connecting with Jade Sato and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jade, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I am yonsei, a 4th generation mixed Japanese American. I was raised in a family business, Sato’s Flowers. A flower nursery that sold direct to customer seasonal plants and offered landscaping services in the summer. During the winter we sold Christmas trees and poinsettias. Growing up the tasks of a unfocused 6-10 year old at the flower shop were to learn to water the greenhouses filled with starts, practice ring up customers at the register, practice potting up mixed flower arrangements, and when I was strong enough try to help unload deliveries of flats of flowers. That environment filled with soil, plants, and family is the happiest place in my mind of my childhood. I learned through observation the strength and knowledge my family had to pass down to me and my cousins about working with the soil but also how to build a family business.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Since 2014 I have been working, learning, gathering knowledge, and seeking mentors in the farming industry in Colorado. Ive taken classes, gone on tours, and read many books on farming. The biggest struggle I have encountered is finding another Asian American mentor who is practicing no till or natural farming methods and growing Asian produce in rural Colorado who has the time and energy to teach. Because it was not possible to find this person at the time I was searching, I was lucky to have found the mentors and teachers that were accessible to me. I have learned through the challenges to rely on my unwavering determination and persistence to ask people questions till I find an answer that suits my situation. Many of my found mentors and teachers have been migrant farm workers from Mexico. By working in close proximity to farms or on farms that rely on H2A migrant labor I have observed some of the most skilled labor in America. Even though my Spanish stands to be improved I’m still able to gain the knowledge that has been offered to me about farming. I am extremely grateful to these incredible farmers. My greatest support has actually come from young farmers who I have worked with on farms or meet through social media. They are asking the same questions of the industry and calling for change. I would like people to know that the name of my farm belonged to my grandpa George Minoru Sato. He along with many of his family members were imprisoned in the WWII Japanese internment camps. He was a 2nd generation Japanese American Farmer. Our family history was that of rice farmers from Japan immigrating to America to farm in the early 19th century. I farm because it helps me claim and know my Asian identity.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This question is difficult because I have to remember a time before covid… time machine… My favorite greeting in Asian culture is, have you eaten yet? Restaurants I always take people to when visiting are Domo, Vinh Xuong Bakery, Dae Gee, Vert, Potager, Tokyo Premium Bakery, Pho555, and Adalitas in Denver. Just to name a few. And if these people are really MY friends, all we will want to do is eat in between hiking trails in Estes park or Westcliffe, riding bikes around Barr Lake or Denver city streets, maybe finding ourselves in hot water at Orvis hot spring. Exciting people to find and talk to would be other farmers at the farmers markets in Denver or Boulder, farm tours at Ela Family Farms in Hotchkiss, or meeting other friends at a park or coffee house to chat up a storm.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Since I began farming in 2014 my biggest support has been my mom. It became abundantly clear that I was decided on becoming a farmer. She has never dissuaded me or questioned my choice. She was my first CSA customer when I had a small urban garden CSA in 2016 and has always been a listening ear when my path of farming would challenge me. But no one else in my life has taught me more about the importance of health and how it’s achieved through what we put into our bodies.
Zephrine Hanson for the Market photo.