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Farm Fresh at Frying Pan

Farmers Table at Frying Pan Park offers a preview of the market season.

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Mom Jackie Utshudi and daughter Maureen Kabamba founded Les Mini Galettes in 2006, producing a Congolese traditional mini-waffle in a variety of flavors. Maybe Maureen’s young son Elijah will join in when he’s old enough to reach the baking table.

Dreaming of all that farm fresh produce and the treats on offer at the area farmers’ markets? Counting the days until May when most will re-open? Stop dreaming. And stop staring at the calendar. Wander over to Frying Pan Farm Park on Thursdays between 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. and satisfy your cravings for food that hasn’t been flash-frozen or packed with preservatives so that it could make the gazillion mile trip from who-knows-where to your grocery store.

The indoor Farmer’s Table market takes place in the confines of the park’s Visitor Center—that means four walls that block the winds, a place where the littlest ones can scoot around a bit and still be in plain sight. It also means the added bonus of a venue where there are other activities, both indoor and out, to enhance the experience.

Frying Pan Farm Park Manager Yvonne Johnson, and Michelle Edwards, historian and Visitor Center manager, promise different themes and activities with each week’s market open house, from wagon or pony rides, craft making, cupcake decorating, or a visit with the animals who call the park their home.

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Farmer Chris Guerre puts together a bouquet of mini-baby carrots for shopper Susan Gentry of Vienna. In the background is Nsougan Sessou, owner of Becky’s Pastries.

And then there’s the food and the friendly and informative vendors and park staff. While a chill wind blustered outside, the shoppers last Thursday were treated to information about the produce currently in-season from farmer Chris Guerre, who with his wife Sara, owns and runs the Maple Avenue Market in Vienna and farms in Great Falls. Ever heard of “mache?” Guerre will cheerfully tell you about this baby green that has been used for thousands of years in salads, cooked like spinach, or used in soups and stuffings.

A few tables down, Nsougan Sessou was tempting shoppers with his homemade breads and muffins sold under the label of “Becky’s Pastries”—but don’t ask him to divulge the secret ingredients that were handed down from the family recipe back in Togo. He’ll just smile and say, “It’s all good for you—and tastes good, too!”

Next up, Katherine Adams is ready for a chat about life on Stallard Road Farm in Rixeyville, Va., and why grass-fed, grass-finished beef is the healthy way to go. Sweet treats were also available, courtesy of the ladies of Les Mini Gallettes, featuring waffle-like delicacies with a French-African flavor, and the cupcake delights of Sweet Thang Bakery, where dad does the baking and son Matt Smith and associate Allie Hallman take the goodies to market.

There’s no telling what may be in store at next week’s market, but don’t delay. These spring Farmers’ Table happenings are only on through April 25, so come on down for an afternoon on the farm at 2739 West Ox Road in Herndon. For more information, check out the “Event” tab at www.fryingpanpark.org, or give them a call at 703-437-9101. Bring that re-usable shopping bag to fill up, and as they say, come “shake the hand that grows the food.”