twitter icon facebook icon youtube icon instagram icon

Stories from the valley


Contributed by Jennifer Harrison


The Sacramento Valley grows a lot of things: rice, tomatoes, nuts, peaches and much more.  It also grows new chapters. Meet two people who turned life changing moments into a new careers, thanks to the bounty and open arms of our region.

man holding bouquet of flowers at farmers market

Flower Power

Nrhoua Xiong  was working in Seattle when Covid-19 hit.  Work dried up and he returned to his roots.  Literally.  Xiong’s family, of KZflowers operates a 21-acre flower farm in Rio Linda. They create some of the biggest and most unique bouquets and can be found at local farmers markets.  I caught up with him at the Woodland Farmers Market.

“This is a career change, I’ve found my passion” Xiong said holding a huge bouquet fit for a museum and sporting things like sunflowers, lilies and a white flower I can’t quite recognize, but am intrigued by its fluffy and puffy look.

“This flower comes from something you eat, a carrot! The top of the carrot that has gone to seed.  They were on our farm  when we started flower farming I thought, hey those would be great in a bouquet” recalled Xiong.

Talk about reinvention.  

Family at their chili pepper stand at farmers market

Hot Spot

Roast it and they will come. Especially in the summer.  This is when Ray Pacheco of El Rey Chile Company fires up his roasting machine full of green chile peppers at the Woodland Farmers Market. Not just any chiles.  A native of New Mexico, Pacheco missed his home state’s famous Hatch green chiles so much that he and his wife Claudia created a business bringing the pepper to Northern California. 

“We have now grown into having our own dried seasonings and our own roasted Hatch green chile salsa” explained Pacheco.

While Hatch chiles look identical to California and Anaheim varieties, there’s one distinction, they are hotter.  Much hotter.  Restuarants and customers are eating it up.  El Rey Chile Company’s chiles and chile products can be found in restaurants in Woodland and Sacramento., but it’s the face to face interaction at farmer’s markets that Pacheco finds rewarding. 

“It’s a huge draw.  We bring out our roaster and just start roasting, we have medium, hot and quadruple X hot.” 

Mark your calendar, the roaster fires up in July.