If you are not from this area you might think you can’t grow anything but lizards, snakes,cactus, sage brush and donkeys, but the Vegas Valley area, we found that many things are grown. Since the mid 1800’s Nevada has been able to grow in abundance alfalfa, potatoes, and onions. These gave the settlers of the west strength, vigor, and sustenance. Grains such as wheat, oats and barley do not grow well due to water restraints. Native to Nevada is the June grass and it grows wild. Most recently has been the active trend of local farms and a multitude of farmer’s markets popping up in our urban desert land. Farms are now growing and selling everything from fruit trees to tomatoes, and you can find them practically in yourown backyard.
Our local farm growers who provide abundantly to the farmer’s markets are growing herbs and vegetables along with some fruits. Herbs by Diane can be found at the Downtown Feed. Brighter Ideas provides baskets with the “Share Program”, and Etheridge Farms grows local fruits and brings in others from California.
There are many farms north of Las Vegas,including the near Indian Springs and the Quail Hallow Farms in Moapa. The Buckhorn Ranch includes 8 acres of farming and raises 1000 goats for cheese and milk. They provide fresh vegetables, fruits, cheese and other products to some of the restaurants on the Strip whose chef’s prefer “very fresh” produce for their specialty dishes. This ranch even uses the waste from the restaurants for their compost to create a better growing environment.
The Quail Hollow Farm is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA is a way for community consumers to buy local food from its growers. Farmers partner with each other and provide products on a weekly basis. They are place together in a box or basket for a membership or subscription price. Anyone can join the CSA by paying for their membership each year and enjoying a seasonal bounty of the farmers’ labor. Quail Hallow Farm also puts out a newsletter and sometimes recipes as a bonus. Every week they bring their produce to Downtown Feed Market and the Fresh 52 Farmers’ Markets to sell to customers. Located in North Las Vegas, the Gilcrease Orchard allows visitors to walk into the orchards and hand pick apples and pears from trees no taller than 6’ tall. With just a short walk through the farm we could pick tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, beets,and all sorts of greens. The whole adventure was like OZ and following the yellow brick road.
An Urban Garden Oasis
When we visited the Tonopah Gardens located at 715 N Tonopah Drive right in the heart of an urban Las Vegas neighborhood we were curious to see that volunteer workers were making hi-rise boxes for new plants. They build them from redwood timbers and then fill them with compost and a soil mixture since the ground there is clay and caliches’, common in our desert climate.
One of their volunteers told us of the many different vegetables growing for the fall season. They were amazingly green and fresh looking. Recently our own Studio 8 Ten Boutique and Gift Shop on Las Vegas Boulevard participated in a fundraiser at the gardens which they have several times a year to help fund the care of the crops and agricultural education for community members. The gardens are open to the public for picking and purchasing their own plot of land to grow whatever they want. The volunteers help to tend the plots when the owners cannot get out and care for them. They also harvest the crops when they are ready and make sure they don’t go to waste. It was fun to see how everything grows and how some vegetables are below the ground and some above. You can learn a lot about growing things by going to visit the gardens and participating in their classes and workshops throughout the year
Local Food, Local Dollars
In addition to all the local farms and gardens, there is also no shortage of Farmers Markets in the community. The Fresh 52 Farmer’s and Artisan markets, the Downtown Feed market, and the Las Vegas Farmer’s Markets provide additional locations to shop local and regional growers.
Our team visited The Downtown Feed Market to meet local farm growers. The produce was outstandingly fresh and the farmers who greeted us were very excited about telling us what they had for sale. Markets and farms not only appeal to the local community, but also to restaurants and catering companies who want the very best fresh produce for their specialty dishes.
We met Executive Pastry Chef, Doug Taylor of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse picking up the fruits and produce for the day at the Downtown Feed Market.
When the markets, farms and community all work together, we are offering the mom- and pop shops and specialty startups to be tomorrow’s visible businesses and promote the economy in the Las Vegas Valley.