Minh Pham takes care of flowers and customers with a smile

By Eric Dodson

(JULY 19, 2019) In Southeast Portland, the Portland Nursery sells flowers, plants, trees, and many supplies for gardens and yards. The nursery started in 1907, when Portland was much smaller. Back then, there were more horses than cars on the road.

These days, many people drive their cars to the nursery, especially during the summer. All of those people are welcomed by one man, Minh Pham. He smiles, says hello, and helps everyone who comes to the Portland nursery. He started working there about 25 years ago. Now, he is 80 years old, but he still loves his job.

Minh’s first career was a doctor. He was a surgeon in Vietnam. He served with the South Vietnam army. But, because of the war, he was captured, and he had to stay in a prison camp for eight years.

Some people in Portland wanted to help refugees like Minh. A refugee is someone who has to leave their country because of violence or war. In 1994, a church worked with the owner of the Portland nursery to bring Minh and his family to Oregon.

Minh remembers the day he started work at the nursery. “My God, it was paradise,” he says. “All of the flowers on earth are here!”

His coworker says he is “the face of the Portland nursery.” He has also raised three children. They are now an engineer, a pilot, and a banker and a dancer.

Minh still takes care of the nursery’s customers and flowers, and does everything with a smile.

In Oregon, new refugees come and are welcomed every year. About 600 refugees came to Oregon this year. However, fewer refugees are coming because of President Trump and his decisions.

“Our Roots.” Portland Nursery, 2018, https://portlandnursery.com/about/roots/. Accessed 19 July 2019.
“What Is a Refugee?” USA for UNHR, 2018. https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/. Accessed 19 July 2019.
Jaquiss, Nigel. “Groundskeeper Minh Pham Has Been the Face of Portland Nursery for 20 Years.” Willamette Week, 10 July 2019. https://www.wweek.com/culture/2019/07/09/groundskeeper-minh-pham-has-been-the-face-of-portland-nursery-for-20-years/ Accessed 19 July 2019.
Morrison, Erica. Oregon Public Broadcasting, 14 March 2019. “As Feds Crack Down, Refugee Resettlement Agencies Ask Oregon For Help.” https://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-refugee-resettlement-funding-assistance-legislation/ Accessed 19 July 2019.
Photo Credit: Wesley LaPointe, Willamette Week. Used with permission.

"ESOL News Oregon by Timothy Krause is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. except where noted.