An urban farm in Old Kensington, Philadelphia is cultivating a crop of little-known tubers
Despite yacón’s visual and textual similarities to sweet potatoes and other veggies, it’s got an appeal all its own.
By Carly Szkaradnik
Philadelphia City Paper
To the untrained eye, yacón can look an awful lot like a common ipomoea batatas (sweet potato), so its initial impact is somewhat blunted. But when you cut into it, you’ll discover something crisp and sweet that will make you shift your frame of reference to jicama. In fact, the yacón is more closely related to the sunchoke. And much like some hardy, leafy greens that you’d otherwise think have no place in the discussion, yacón’s sweetness and flavor improve after it has weathered a few frosts.
Which is why Cliff Brown was out in the chilly November daybreak last week — well after most local dabblers conceded to autumn and yanked any shriveled plant remains from their beds — harvesting yacón at its peak from a plot at the corner of Master and Lawrence streets in Old Kensington. The spot may sound unlikely if you’re not from around there, but La Finquita (the “Little Farm”) has been a part of this landscape for more than 25 years.