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Or, how I learned to love farmers’ markets.
Photo: Jay Aldrich
Ask any backyard gardener what happens when you sprinkle a few zucchini seeds in your veggie patch. In my experience the green squash not only multiplied like amorous chinchillas but also grew to pumpkin-like proportions. There are only so many recipes, and neighbors, friends, relatives, and co-workers began to avoid my attempts to share the burgeoning harvest.
I quickly lost interest in backyard cultivation when I discovered farmers’ markets with fresh-from-the-garden fruits and vegetables from local and regional growers. Generally, the Nevada season runs from May through September, except for the year-round operations in Henderson, Las Vegas, and North Las Vegas.
Stroll through a typical farmers’ market during May and June and you’ll notice salad greens, broccoli, herbs, peas, beets, and radishes. From July to October there are cucumbers, green onions, sweet corn, apples, summer squash, green beans, eggplant, tomatoes, turnips, and melons. Fall crops include winter squash, pumpkins, herbs, and lots of potatoes. That’s just a taste of the items available for sidewalk picking.
The markets have a festive air, evidenced by the entertainment and music at Sparks Hometowne Farmers’ Market. Most have arts and crafts vendors who display woodwork, jewelry, and handmade candles and soaps. Smells of barbecue, kettle corn, and hot dogs sharpen hunger pangs already whetted by displays of lush strawberries and tomatoes.
While the Silver State is stereotyped as an inhospitable desert, agriculture is one of the most important industries, according to the Nevada Department of Agriculture. In fact, the state’s ranches rank third in the nation in size, averaging 3,500 acres. Livestock, grains, and dairy account for the majority of the production, but farms produce abundant crops ranging from pistachio nuts and garlic to prize-winning melons. Some of the state’s crops have led to celebrations, including Fallon’s Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe and Logandale’s Pomegranate festivals.
Today, shopping the markets and local farms have become lifestyle choices. Proponents claim seasonal produce is more nutritious, fresher, and tastes better than an import picked months ago.
Even zucchini is back on my menu. I just have to try a new casserole recipe.
Guide to Healthy and Tasty Living
By Audrey Greene
Nevada can be stereotyped as barren, desolate, and an agricultural wasteland. Not quite true. While sagebrush and tumbleweeds ARE found in abundance, there are fields of verdant lettuce and sun-ripened tomatoes whose crops are found in statewide farmers’ markets. The Silver State is definitely part of the growing trend toward “living green and buying locally” at farmers’ markets. Available produce varies by region, but shoppers will generally find a large selection of fresh produce, a healthy portion of which is organically grown.
From May to June expect to find such veggies as lettuce, fresh greens, beets, chards, spinach, and peas (snap, snow, or shelling). July to August is the season for cucumbers, garlic, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, okra, fresh herbs, green beans, fresh greens, and peppers. During September and October there are onions, greens, winter squash, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, peppers, and pumpkins.
The following is a guide to farmers’ markets and regional growers. Hours change, so call ahead to confirm details. Inquire about senior citizen discount coupons available from civic organizations.
LAS VEGAS AREA
Gilcrease Orchard: Pick your own produce Saturdays until noon during the summer. gilcreaseorchard.org, 702-732-8676
Henderson Farmers’ Market: Thursdays year-round except during special events on the Henderson Plaza.
Las Vegas Farmers’ Markets: Tuesdays at Gardens Park in Summerlin, Wednesdays at Bruce Trent Park, year-round.
North Las Vegas Farmers’ Markets: Thursdays at City Hall, Fridays at Aliante Nature Discovery Park, year-round.
Carson City Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays June 4-Aug. 27. visitcarsoncity.com, 775-746-5024
Churchill Butte Organics, Dayton: Produce delivery year-round. Contact Marcia Litsinger through the Nevada Organic Council, agri.state.nv.us
Corley Ranch, Gardnerville: Saturday-Sunday Sept. through Oct., fall vegetables. corleyranch.com, 775-265-3045
Dayton Farmers’ Market: Thursdays mid-June through Aug. Community Roots Nursery. 775-250-7884
Gardnerville Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays May 21-Sept. 17 at Lampe Park. dcparks-recreation.co.douglas.nv.us, 775-782-9828
Great Basin Basket, Reno: Subscription-based fee co-op. Subscribers sign up to receive produce from the three growing seasons. localharvest.org/farms/M19842
Homewood Mountain Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe: Saturdays June 21 through Aug. 30. foothillfarmersmarket.com
Kings Beach Farmers’ Market, Lake Tahoe: Tuesdays June 3 through Aug. 26. foothillfarmersmarket.com
Riverside Urban Market, Reno: Outside markets open Wednesday and Friday nights in July; interior markets in Oct.
Shoppers Square Farmers’ Market, Reno: Tuesdays June 3-Oct. 7. crystlbrdg.clearwire.net, 775-746-5024
Somersett Town Square Farmers’ Market, Reno: Wednesdays June 11-TBD. somersett.com, 775-787-4500
Sparks Hometowne Farmers’ Market: Thursdays June 12-Aug. 21 (except Aug. 7). sparksrec.com, 775-353-2291
Sparks United Methodist Church Market: Tuesdays June through Sept. 775-358-0925
Tahoe City Farmers’ Markets, Tahoe City: Thursdays May 22 through Oct. 16 at Commons Beach. foothillfarmersmarket.com
Tamarack Junction Casino Farmers’ Market, Reno: Fridays June 6-Oct. 10. crystlbrdg.clearwire.net, 775-746-5024
Town Square Farmers’ Market, Reno: Wednesdays June 11 through Aug. 20. 775-323-1405
Truckee Farmers’ Market, Truckee: Tuesdays June 3 through Sept. 30 at Truckee River Regional Park. foothillfarmersmarket.com
Village Center Farmers’ Market, Reno: Saturdays June 7-Oct. 4. crystlbrdg.clearwire.net, 775-746-5024
West Street Farmers’ Market, Reno: Saturdays July through Sept. crystlbrdg.clearwire.net, 775-746-5024
Carrol’s Corner Truck Farm, Yerington: Furnishes vegetables and melons to farmers’ markets and has onsite sales.
Elko Farmers’ Market: Friday and Saturdays May 16 through Oct. 775-777-8913
End of the Rainbow Ranch, Caliente: Sept. through Oct. Four varieties of apples. Pick-your-own five-gallon bucket, $10. 775-726-3373
Fallon Farmers’ Market: Tuesdays June 12-Sept. 11. fallontourism.com, 775-423-4802
Hawthorne Farmers’ Market: Friday or Saturdays June through mid-Oct. 775-945-3954
Lattin Farms, Fallon: May through Oct. Supplies farmers’ markets; roadside produce stand, July through Oct. lattinfarms.com, 866-638-6293
Nanadew Herb Farm, Fallon: Garden, herb, and flower starts. Farmers’ markets and onsite sales.
Pahrump Farmers’ Market: Saturdays June through Oct. unce.unr.edu, 775-727-5532
Silver Springs: Custom Gardens: Onsite sales Sundays mid-June through Oct. Community Supported “Food-for-Work” program requires five hours commitment per week in exchange for weekly crops. customgardens.home.mindspring.com, 775-577-2069
Smith Family Farm, Wellington: Year-round onsite sales of vegetables and grass-fed beef. 775-465-2549
Wadsworth Ranching Company, Panaca: Onsite sales of vegetables, beef, and lamb. 775-728-4292
Workman Farms, Fallon: Onsite sales daily July through Oct. 775-867-3716
Hearts O’ Gold Cantaloupe Festival, Fallon: Aug. 31-Sept. 3. Music, beer garden, country faire, arts and crafts, cantaloupe foods, games, contests, mud volleyball, junior rodeo, parade, wagon rides. fallontourism.com, 775-423-2544. Celebration includes the Lattin Farms Fall Festival, scarecrow factory, and corn maze, Saturdays in Oct. lattinfarms.com, 866-638-6293
Corley Ranch Harvest Festival, Gardnerville: Weekends in Oct. Saturday night corn maze, pig races, petting zoo, miniature horse and wagon rides, crafts, entertainment, and food. corleyranch.com, 775-265-3045
Haunted Corn Maze, Logandale: Weekends Oct. 3-31. BBQ, haunted house, pumpkin patch, entertainment. Maze group tours weekdays. glendalecornmaze.com, 702-864-2277
Pomegranate Arts Festival, Logandale: Nov. 7-8. Pomegranate foods and fine arts. moapavalley.com, 702-397-6444