When you shred 1,600 pounds of spring onions each week to accompany the 65,000 roasted ducks you sell per year garnishes are not an afterthought. That’s why the owners of Peking Gourmet Inn in Falls Church also own and operate the 133-acre Grass Roots Farm in Purcellville, where a staff of three grows the jumbo spring onions, along with garlic sprouts, leeks and Napa cabbage exclusively for the res-taurant. Every crop is harvested by hand, and the fresh produce is delivered twice a week. Farming has long been a second
vocation for the Tsui family, which started out cultivating 40 acres in Centreville before moving its agricultural venture to Purcellville in the late 1980s.
Bob Tsui, a third-generation co-owner who worked as a government contractor before joining the family business in 2011, recalls summers as a teenager growing the giant onions. The crop is planted in the early spring, he explains, and in July the baby onions are transported to larger fields, where they grow to their full height of 2 1/2 feet.
Tender garlic sprouts are among the farm’s unique crops, in that the sprouts never touch soil or see sunlight. Rather, the entire hydroponic growth cycle takes place inside a specially built barn. The mild-tasting sprouts are cut from the garlic by hand (two cuts per bulb), after which the spent vegetation is distributed in the fields as fertilizer. Even with a dedicated growing source, the restaurant doesn’t always have an unending supply of garlic sprouts. They’re plentiful in fall and winter but harder to come by in warmer months; so regular customers often call ahead to check on their availability. An inside tip? Go on Fridays.