Pak Express Farm in Cranston, RI chemical-free
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Cranston, RI - Pak Express is a small 1 acre farm run by Mr. and Mrs. Xiong in Cranston. In addition to their farm in Cranston the Xiong's also farm an acre and a half that they rent from the South Side Community Land Trust in Johnston.
The Xiong's came to this country from Laos 30 years ago in September of '76. They had farmed in Laos, raising rice with the help of a water buffalo. When they moved to the U.S.A. They lived first in Providence where Mr. Xiong worked as a policeman. But farming as in their blood. Although they owned no land the Xiongs found a small bit of space under an overpass and began planting vegetables there. Later they found 100 like - minded families who all went together to lease a plot of land near Roger Williams Park. Each family had just 50 square feet to farm, finally ten years ago the Xiong's bought their present home in Cranston, 1 acre. Mrs. Xiong's sister, Pang Hand, and her husband bought a piece of land just down the road, shortly after that and also started a farm there.
The Xiong's raise a variety of animals as well as vegetables at their home in Cranston. They have turkeys, geese, pigeons and chickens. They have several breeds of chickens, including Bantams.
But them, a few years ago, the Xiong's saw a brochure offering land for rent in nearby Johnston. South Side Community Land Trust is a cooperative supported by Rhode Island to promote local farming. South Side raises all kids of crops. But also leases piece of land to individuals or families. They teach farming practices to these families, rent them farm equipment, provide compost and fertilizer, and plow the land for them once a year. The Xiong's couldn't resist neither could Mrs. Xiong's sister, who also rented an acre next to the Xiong's. The Xiong's have 1 1/2 acres at South Side. They raise green beans, carrots, 3 kinds of cucumber, beats, tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, sweet banana peppers, bell peppers, cantaloupe, corn, swiss chard, bok choi, pea pods, and onions. Their garden looks like a practice postcard.
The Xiong's brought seeds with them from Laos, representing all kinds of interesting variation of vegetables, little known in the U.S. But they found that when tried to sell these at local farmer's markets, no one bought them. People seemed to want the kinds of produce that were familiar. So the Xiong's shifted to raising local varieties. But they still have some of these, like a beautiful dark purple chard, that they raise for themselves.
So the Xiong's now have their 1 1/2 acres at South Side and their acre in Cranston and on these two rather small pieces of land. They have a cornucopia of vegetables and animals that is truly amazing.