After pulling into the Urban Roots farm in East Austin, our morning began with a question: "What kind of sock are you?" This question was asked of all the volunteers and was approached in a variety of ways: literal, metaphorical, philosophical, and comedic. One volunteer said "mismatched", another said "Smart Wool", and so on. What connected each answer was that each volunteer felt some kind of sock represented them.
It's a little bit of a silly question to make deep, but hear us out. If we all feel connected to certain representations, what do you want yours to be? And how will you live your life to make that representation feel accurate?
Waking up Wednesday after getting our hands dirty picking okra, squash, cucumbers, and Hungarian wax peppers (and getting a few fire ant bites along the way), we felt closer to the active and vibrant part of our local community's food ecosystem that we'd like to be.
Even better, we got to do so with a mission-aligned non-profit that operates in underserved neighborhoods. By training young people to run their farm (and eventually letting them), Urban Roots empowers the youth of Austin to take charge of their plates and provides them with the tools to become the food producers and urban farmers of the future. They've produced more than 250,000 pounds of produce and paid $365,000 worth of stipends to young people since 2008.
Below you'll find some photos from our day at the farm and a salsa recipe using the Hungarian Wax Peppers they let us take home!
Hungarian Wax Pepper Salsa
15 Minutes, Serves 4
If a jalapeño and a banana pepper raised a family together, their kid would be the Hungarian wax pepper. It has the tang of the banana pepper and comparable spice to a Jalapeño. Compared to a similar salsa verde made with Serranos, this salsa is milder, paler in color, and gets a nice vinegar kick from the Hungarian wax peppers
- 1lb Tomatillos
- 1/2 White Onion
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 4 Hungarian Wax Peppers, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup Avocado Oil
- Cilantro to taste
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Add half of the oil to a pan and, on low heat, slowly cook the garlic until golden brown.
- In another pan over medium-high heat, add the other half of the oil, the onion, the peppers, and the tomatillos. Cook, slowly stirring and rotating the tomatillos until they turn a pale yellow-green color, around 5 minutes.
- Wait for the ingredients to cool a bit, then pour into a blender. Add cilantro, salt, and pepper, then blend.