Jun 18, 2008

Northern Nevada apples in 2008

Apples grown in Northern Nevada are in our future! Delane Pennington of Agape Organics-The Apple Basket report that their apple tree blossoms survived the very erratic 2008 spring weather and they’ll have apples and pumpkins for us this year.

They grow Golden Delicious, Cameo, Gala, and Braeburn apples in a you-pick orchard located in Washoe Valley. When it is time to harvest they send out postcards to let their customers know the orchard is open for business. If you and your family and friends want to experience Northern Nevada apples email Agape Organics at delane@agapeorganics.com or call Delane at 775-885-1988 to get on the mailing list.

Life is good!

Jun 14, 2008

Northern Nevada Goat farm rumored for sale

To Ginger (and anyone else who's interested),

Thanks for posting your possible interest in this property. The only contact information I could track down is this:

Oasis Farmstead Dairy at 3970 Edwards Lane, Fallon. The listed farmers are David and Joyce Nusz, and Steve and Mona Miller @ (775) 867-4683. Don't know if the phone number is still good.

I have a call into the guy who originally told me it is still for sale and will post any updates when he gets back to me.

Jun 7, 2008

Farmer's market - new Whole Foods location press release

Press release from my mailbox to you:

CONTACT: Ann Louhela
Nevada Certified Farmers Market Association
(775) 351-2551

Fresh Mex is cooking fresh at new Reno farmers market

Jesus Gutierrez of Fresh Mex, a Reno-based restaurant, is excited about the new farmers market opening in the parking lot next to Whole Foods Market this summer. Gutierrez will be serving breakfast and lunch to customers made with produce obtained fresh at the market. Breakfast burritos and cactus salads are a few of the items on his menu. The farmers market located at 6139 S. Virginia Street will be open from 8am-1pm, June 21 through October 4.

Fresh Mex will be one of several new vendors featured at the market which is managed by the Nevada Certified Farmers Market Association. Some of the vendors to be featured at the farmers market include:
* Nanadew Herb Farm, Fallon, NV – herb plants and fresh organic herbs and produce
* Nevada’s Own Perennials, Smith Valley, NV – unique perennials for home landscaping, “grown in Nevada for Nevada”
* Twin Peaks Orchards, Newcastle, CA – fresh peaches, nectarines, pluots, apples & other fruit; dried fruit, pies and preserves from their on-farm bakery
* Lattin Farms, Fallon, NV – fresh produce, Hearts ‘O Gold melons, berries; breads, jams & jellies from their on-farm bakery
* Home Grown Nevada, Smith Valley, NV – organic produce and grass fed beef
* Hidden Valley Honey, Hidden Valley, NV – honey and honey bi-products
* Lavender Ridge – lavender plants and lavender products

“This market has something for everyone” says Ann Louhela, market manager. “Cooking demonstrations in the state-of-the-art Culinary Center inside Whole Foods Market, children’s activities, and arts & crafts. We have vendors bringing unique nursery stock for home landscaping and gardening that you won’t find at any store, and of course, lots of farm-fresh produce.”

For more information about this market and other local farmers markets, visit www.NevadaGrown.com or call (775) 351-2551.

Jun 5, 2008

Supper in the Barn

Gary & Kim Romano of Sierra Valley Farms, and Mark Estees of Moody’s have put together a series of dinners called Supper in the Barn. The meals are prepared and served by Moody’s and served in the Romano barn. They've held a couple of them already, which they report have been really successful. We thought so too!

We drove out to the farm Sunday night for the special Slow Food dinner, where we ate a fantastic meal with good wine and good company, toured the farm, and learned the Romano-farm story. Did you know that Sierra Valley Farms holds the only on-the-farm farmer’s market in California? And, each week different local chefs hold demonstrations right there in the market. Checkout the LFNN calendar for dates.

The Romano family and Mark are among a growing number of people who are developing mutually beneficial restaurant/grower relationships that result in local, earth-friendly, and delicious food for those who seek them out. For example Romano’s are transitioning some of their 65 acres to crops their customers are asking for, some that are in line with the permaculture principle like perennial asparagus and strawberries (both organic). And they’re growing wasabe! Mark is working with a local farmer who will raise pigs for the pork dishes you’ll find at Moody’s later on in the year.

If you're looking for a way to spend a really great afternoon, eating great food in an unusual and beautiful spot with the people who grow and cook your food, I highly recommend Supper in the Barn.

Jun 3, 2008

A demo garden at the West Street Market

Imagine what this might look like planted out with Nevada-friendly food crops....

It could happen!

By now many of us know about the West Street Market project planned for downtown Reno, Nevada. I’ve been waiting for my chance to contribute to this local-food concept and now the time has come! Leslie Allen of the UNR Cooperative Extension is putting together a demonstration food garden plan to redesign the median in front of the market. She has a plan, financial support, and the skill…all that’s needed now is us.

This project is important in many ways but two aspects stick with me and will have me asking my supervisor for time off these two days so that I can contribute.

First, the people working to develop this project are totally committed to creating a market that connects local food lovers (us) with local growers, cheese makers, bakers, and restaurateurs. When this market is fully developed as planned it will be exactly what a local food lover needs – a one-stop location to pick up a variety of tasty, locally grown and/or locally prepared foods.

Second, a great urban market is a key component of a successful and vibrant downtown atmosphere. The West Street Market location is right in the middle of the area local merchants and city officials have been working to improve for a long time now. Things are really looking good downtown and I think this garden will be another great addition to the increasingly inviting feel.

Is there anything more inviting than a garden? So...why not a demo-garden?

The ultimate local food is that which is grown right outside your front or back door. As it turns out the West Street Market will have a “front door” conveniently located near some growing space, perfect for a demonstration food garden. Leslie, the City of Reno, and the UNR Cooperative Extension would love to show us what can be happen when a locally driven project, supported by local people who plant and care for a garden, is put in place to demonstrate to local consumers, kids, and visitors, the beauty of food grown in Nevada's nooks and crannies.

Are you, or perhaps someone else in your circle, looking for an opportunity to volunteer for a day, or two, or more? How about now? Planting days are tentatively scheduled for June 19th & 20th (Thursday and Friday). If you’d like to be involved with this project click on the comment field and let me know..I'll pass it on to Leslie. Hope to see you there!

Jun 1, 2008

Nancy at Dish Cafe is Dishing Up!

Nancy at the wonderful Dish Cafe has a new blog, called dishing up. Take a look....insight into a great food life, including the great recipes (with pictures...I love pictures) she's developed and prepared for her friends and family. Great!

Have you tried her food yet? Fantastic! Her food is fresh, innovative and tasty, and you can experience it at her place or yours because she also caters. Bonus...she is totally committed to the local food scene.

Being a Nevada Locavore presentation and resources

I had a great day yesterday! Why? Because Leslie and I put on an informal Being a Nevada Locavore presentation at Moana Nursery and the house was packed with people interested in learning more about the local food scene. Rick Lattin and the Mushroom Guy were in the room and answered some of the really great questions Leslie and I couldn’t. This post is long but I hope worth the read. So much information and enthusiasm flew around that room that I can’t help but put it all here!

Leonard Joy, Rick Lattin, and the Mushroom Guy were in the nursery selling and talking about their products -- honey, purple asparagus and greens, and mushroom kits.

We talked about much of what you’ve already read on this blog so I won’t repeat it, but also a lot about the ultimate in local food -- what is grown in backyards and local communities.

Here’s some of what I learned.

We will soon have access to locally grown mushrooms. I won’t put any contact or product information here just yet because the “Mushroom Guy”, as we lovingly call him, needs a few more weeks before he is ready for distribution. I’ll post it as soon as he’s ready.

What about fruit? This is a tough one for Nevadans.

Nevada-grown stone fruit is hard to come by. We have the trees, the necessary chill hours, and the desire, but we also have a yearly late frost which very often kills the blossoms. Many people have perfectly suited micro climates in their yards which make it possible to have a productive apricot or peach tree, but entire orchards are a different story. If you are one of those lucky people who have a productive tree, or are at the right place at the right time and can purchase Nevada tree fruit, rejoice! Or if you have a neighbor that has a tree but is less interested in the pruning and harvesting, ask them to let you do it and split the bounty. If you want to grow your own but don’t have any experience with fruit trees, contact the UNR Cooperative Extension for advice on fruit trees in Nevada.

Michael Janik at Michael’s Apples is also a great resource if you want to grow your own. He sells Nevada-raised trees and puts out a great monthly newsletter with time-sensitive growing tips.

Melons grow well in Nevada where the weather is warmer, and Lattin Farm grows a beauty called “Heart of Gold”. If you get a chance to get your hands on one of these, take it home and eat it! The season is short and luscious.

We can grow cane fruits like raspberries, and one lady-farmer at the presentation is growing sunberries, apparently with huge success. We hope to see her produce available soon.

Leslie and I, and I’m sure many other backyard farmers we’ve not yet met, are growing or experimenting with fruit in backyards. Between Leslie and I we’re growing table grapes, three or four different melons, containerized figs and Meyer Lemons, Aunt Molly’s ground cherries (a Slow Food Ark of Taste fruit), and mini dwarf-orchards. All on urban lots!

Someone asked about buying fruit from those trucks you see in parking lots and along roadways. They look sort of local, don’t they? Anyway, the answer is, before buying ask about their enterprise and produce. Where does it come from? How is it grown? Ask to see their business license. Some of these folks are legitimate businesses; others are what are called “gunny sackers”, people who go into someone else’s field in the middle of the night and fill up gunny sacks (or some other container) with pilfered goods.

Does Butcher Boy sell locally produced meat or not? The answer seems to be yes, but the room was filled with differing opinions. I’ll call today!

Are there any community gardens in the Reno/Sparks area? Yes, there is one at Paradise Park. Community gardens are about supply and demand. Many cities are willing to set aside land if enough residents say they want one. Perhaps the Cities of Reno and Sparks would be willing to do the same. Ask! Better yet, find a group of interested folks and ask en-masse.

A great many of the questions Leslie and I answered were about our yards, which we use primarily to grow food and create wildlife habitat. We met so many people who are looking to grow a little or a lot of something in their backyards there just isn’t enough room here to talk about all of it. But if you and your family want to eat the ultimate in local food there are people out there to help.

The River School regularly offers classes on growing organically in Nevada. Here’s a chance to meet some really successful organic growers and perhaps learn to be one yourself. You can also buy eggs there!

UNR Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners program is a great resource for people who want to advice on how to work with the Nevada growing environment. They can help you identify mystery plants and pests, crops that are suitable for Nevada, and much, much more. Information seeker beware though, Master Gardeners will give you both organic and/or conventional growing advice (read pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers) depending on your needs, so be sure to ask for the organic advice. And yes, this is a shameless plug for my own growing philosophy!

We didn't talk specifically about this group but if you want to learn to garden using sustainable practices that model the way things grow in a natural environment join the Truckee Meadows Permaculture Guild. This is a new group made up of people who are learning as they go, with the help of knowledgeable and generous mentors, to develop wildlife friendly, locate local resources, and create self sustaining urban lots that produce food.

Ask around your community. Most people who love to grow food also love to help others grow their own. Find the backyard gardeners/farmers or container gardeners in your neighborhood or sphere of friends or acquaintances and ask them for help. Who knows…you might find yourself the proud owner (or renter) of a foodie-backyard and some new friends.

If you’ve not had an opportunity to attend one of Leslie Allen’s presentations you may not know what you’re missing. She is highly knowledgeable, thrilled to share, walks the talk, and is a great public speaker. She loves food, people, and community, and fosters a belief that everyone has something of value to bring to the community-food discussion and table (yes, this a pun!). Another Nevada Locavore discussion may be planned for later in the year. Contact Moana Nursery on Moana Land and tell them you’re interested. Every little bit helps.

A huge Thanks to Moana Nursery for hosting this event; Reno Gazette Journal for including a timely and informative blurb in the Saturday paper (many attended after reading it while drinking their AM java); the Nevada producers for their great food and advice; and to everyone who came, asked questions, and hopefully went home inspired. Life is good!

Gotta go! My “backyard farm” is calling!