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You can't have a kale salad without kale farmers.

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Farmers markets mean friendly faces and fresh goodies brought to us by the local farmers who sell crunchy, colorful, homegrown delights harvested on their nearby farms. Market goers take those fruits and veggies home, where they make meals that are as flavorful as they are nutritious, and in doing so we support the folks who grow food in Houston, for Houston. A morning at the market is fun, but what’s more fun than that? An afternoon on the farm — where the real magic happens.

All who are interested in seeing where their food takes root can visit the holiday open farm event on one of the first farms in Houston city limits and the city’s only refugee-run farm. The folks at Plant It Forward Farms, founded in 2012 by philanthropist Teresa O'Donnell, will open their gates on Saturday, December 23 for an afternoon of farm activities laced with seasonal cheer. The showcase is an opportunity for locals to check out one of the non-profit’s three farms and see the work of an organization established to empower refugee farmers.

Crops like sweet potatoes, kale and turnips grow like wonderful weeds across the two-acre Plant It Forward Farm at Westbury, where the event will take place. Houston’s mild climate may not be conducive to traditional holiday weather, but it makes for bountiful winter harvests that guests are invited to experience by picking their own greens.

Attendees can also stroll through the farm beds or go on a guided tour while sipping hot chocolate or tangy Jamaican punch made from farm-fresh flowers. A popular holiday drink, the punch is made by steeping waxy red leaves from the roselle plant, a variety of hibiscus that blooms in abundance at Plant It Forward Roselle thrives in subtropical climates like those of Houston, Jamaica and Congo, the home country of Plant It Forward’s six pioneer farmers who’ve spent the past five years laying the groundwork for other refugee farmers in Houston.

The weather prophets say it probably won’t snow again this year: good news for those who get their kicks with a good salad mix. As long as the freeze holds off, the fresh food will keep growing. Snow or no snow, you can still get into the holiday spirit by celebrating the colors of the season with a cup of hot cider and a handful of bright bushy greens from one of the city’s most beloved urban farms.

The Holiday Open Farm takes place from 12-2 p.m. on Plant It Forward’s Westbury Farm, located at 12581 Dunlap Street.

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