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Cox Farms' First Taste of Summer

Roasted corn, iced melon slices, fresh tomatoes and fun.

Most people know Cox Farms in Centreville as the place to go for fresh produce and its annual fall festival that transforms the grounds into a children's paradise. But on Saturday, July 1, Cox will hold its first-ever, First Taste of Summer.

From noon-5 p.m., visitors may sit at picnic tables in the shade and enjoy free samples of hot roasted corn, iced melon slices and juicy tomatoes with basil and a pinch of salt. And children can play on the toy train and tractor, visit a friendly family of goats, toss a Frisbee, kick around a soccer ball or fly a kite.

"We wanted to do something over the long, holiday weekend and celebrate the kickoff of our summer produce season," explained Bob Richard. Cox Farms is owned by Eric Cox and Gina Cox-Richard; and Bob, Gina's brother, helped them start the place in the early 1970s.

In the fall, families and children come for Cox Farms' pumpkins, apple cider, hayrides and slides. But with summer starting, said Richard, "People have been stopping by every day, asking when we're going to have our fresh produce."

And now the time — and the produce — are both ripe. Cox hasn't had a corn roaster before, and it's eager to share it with the public. Beginning July 1, it'll offer sweet, roasted corn throughout the summer, and customers may purchase it to enjoy at home.

Cox used to sell whole melons but, said Richard, "More and more, we're finding that people want us to help them get their dinner ready fast. So during the summer, we'll sell sliced, wrapped, ice-cold watermelon halves and quarters."

In addition, he said, "We'll do a whole series of super-simple, super-quick recipes for fresh produce, as it comes into season." They'll be three-ingredient recipes that can be prepared in less than five minutes, and Cox will give them to customers.

Also during the July 1 event, (rain date's July 2), Cox will sell container gardens and hanging baskets from its greenhouses to brighten up decks and patios. And Richard's niece, Lily Cox-Richard, has designed a new patio and deck setting for them. It's called "Your House" and will feature colorful, container gardens and plantings especially for the summertime.

"It's the first time we've kicked off our summer produce season this way," said Richard. "But people tell us they love our fall festival so much, they want to have more of that fun experience at other times of the year. So this should be a big day, and we're really excited about it."

Cox Farms is at 15621 Braddock Road, at the corner of Braddock and Pleasant Valley Road. Call 703-830-4121.