My partnership with FRESHFARM markets continues today with a trip to the Crystal City Market.

I thought I was going to the Crystal City market to shop for vegetables.It never occurred to me that a chance encounter with the lady with the rose tattoo would influence me so deeply.

She was standing at her vegetable stall explaining to someone what the name of the stall meant – The Farm At Our House. Their farm is housed on the grounds of a non-profit named Our House. The mission of Our House is to take kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and give them skills to lead more productive lives. They do this by helping the kids pass GED exams and gain skills like carpentry etc.

So at this point, I am wondering, as I am sure you are, as to the connection between this farm and Our House.“We are a regular, functioning farm that is housed on the land of Our House.In exchange for the 3.5 acres that we farm, the kids housed there work for us, for pay, and if they do well, we provide a positive job reference for any future work they might seek. While on the job they learn the practical skills of farming, ie. harvesting, planting, weeding, sweating, and also how to act in a professional setting.We hold them to very high standards, and are rarely disappointed,” she tells me.I am just so impressed. Not only did I get delicious organic vegetables from them, I left knowing and feeling good that I actually helped them help a child build a better future.

As I was leaving, she said to me, “ We’re just 3 young people trying to coax food out of the earth, in the most respectful way possible. “

Oh, her name is Caryn, but she told me to tell you that if you go there, just ask for the lady with the rose tattoo.

The Farm at Our House – “We farm 3 and a half acres of certified organic land, mostly by hand.We have a trusty ole tractor, but usually only use it to mow and plow.We sell our produce and eggs at 3 area farmers markets and run a debit-style CSA out of the farm once a week.We have integrated systems of irrigation on the farm, some from public water sources, some from a newly installed well and the rest from collected rainwater.We also raise free-range laying hens on movable pasture around the farm.We just started a new flock from day old chicks, it was a super fun experience watching them grow up!” From Caryn – the rose tattoo lady.

Bigg Riggs – Another fantastic vegetable farm was showcasing their wares. The farmer, Calvin Riggleman, a former marine (!) was featured in Michelle Obama’s cookbook.

RECIPE: Fried ginger, purple potato and yellow tomato salad

6 small purple potatoes, washed and scrubbed clean

20 or so small tomatoes, diff colors and kinds

¼ basil leaves, finely chopped

Juice of one lemon

1/2 tablespoon chaat masala (or use any savory salt of your choice but reduce the quantity

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1-inch ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

½ teaspoon salt or to taste

1 teaspoon roasted and ground cumin

1.Boil the potatoes until fork tender. Remove from heat. Drain and let them cool to room temperature.Peel and dice into small cubes

2.In the meantime, slice the tomatoes in half and place them in a deep bowl. Season with basil, lemon juice and chaat masala. Cover and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. This will help the flavors meld.

3.Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a medium size flat pan. Add the ginger and cook for about 2 minutes or until the ginger becomes crisp and changes color to a medium brown. Drain on a paper towel.

4.In the same pan, add the rest of the oil and then the potatoes. Pan-fry the potatoes for a few minutes until the outside is just crispy. Add the salt and the cumin. Remove from heat.

5.To serve: create a bed of the tomato salad, top with the potatoes and finally garnish with the fried ginger.

6.You can also toss it all together or serve these as two different side salads.

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