Photos by Justin Fox Burks
Pang Xiong travels home to Tennessee during school breaks to help with her family's Yang Farm located near Bolivar.
One Saturday morning at the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market, we asked Caitlin Dupuigrenet, market manager, if there was a vendor she personally thought was amazing but under the radar. She lit up and immediately directed us to Yang Farm.
"Their produce is so beautiful that some people think that they don't grow it,” she confided. “But they do! I've been to the farm a bunch of times."
We made our way to over to the Yang Farm booth and introduced ourselves to Pang Xiong, who travels every summer from Minnesota to the Mid-South to help with her family’s farm. “I come down on school breaks from North Hennepin Community College,” she told us. “The reason I do it is to help my parents. I'm the youngest daughter, so it's been passed down to me. Now it's my brother Shoua and me working."
The family moved around a lot when Pang was growing up, but now their farm is located in Toone, Tennessee, near Whiteville and Bolivar. “My parents are Hmong, which is a small tribe in China,” Pang tells us. Her dad, Lor Xiong, and mom, Ying Yang, have been committed to growing food for most of their lives. As we learned about the family’s journey to the South, we admired the small blue potatoes, greens, beets, yellow squash, carrots, and radishes set out neatly on the oilcloth as we teased out the family’s history and Pang’s role in her parents’ lifelong endeavor.
Pang’s sense of responsibility and her main goal of helping her family is clear, and she is quite proud of the years of work her family has spent building their business. However, she really lights up when she tells us about the things they don’t sell at the market but instead grow for the family’s own meals. Now we want to try those special greens she described so animatedly. We’re going to have to chat with Pang again and get that recipe - and that elusive produce - from her soon. See if you can beat us to it this Saturday morning at the market, held year-round in the parking lot of First Congregrational Church.