Oct 8, 2009

Northern Nevada local farms offer winter produce

From my mailbox to you:

Consumer demand for local food continues to rise, and Nevada farmers are finding innovative ways to supply fresh produce year-round, after farmers markets have ended.

Local farmers will be selling during the winter with on-farm sales, buying programs and through retail outlets. Customers can buy produce such as potatoes, onions, garlic, winter squash and apples that can be stored safely for weeks or months in a cool garage or basement. Some summer crops such as tomatoes and peppers are still available to freeze or can for the winter.

Farmers now are using hoophouses that protect crops from the weather and allow them to grow greens and cool-weather crops all winter long. Beets, carrots, spinach and greens will be available for most of the winter.

Ray and Virginia Johnson, owners of Custom Gardens Organic Farm in Silver Springs, announced they will have on-farm sales throughout the winter. The certified organic farm has a variety of crops for sale, summer and winter varieties.

The Johnsons are known for growing crops not typically grown in Northern Nevada. Their sweet potatoes are a customer favorite, and they'll offer fresh ginger for the first time this winter. They have four hoophouses planted with winter produce.

"We encourage our customers to call and find out what's available," Ray Johnson said. "Winter weather makes harvest dates unpredictable compared to summer. We know it's growing, sometimes just faster or slower than we planned."

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is another option. Customers prepay the farmer for a season and receive a weekly box of locally-grown produce for a certain number of weeks.

The Great Basin Basket CSA offers a winter program with fresh produce through mid-December. Five Northern Nevada farmers grow for the CSA, ensuring a variety of produce.

Reno's only community-owned grocery store, the Great Basin Community Food Co-op, 542 1/2 Plumas St, is the most abundant retail source of local food during the winter. The Co-op offers local produce, bulk food, health and beauty items, and special orders.

More information on these and other sources of local food can be found at:

· Custom Gardens Organic Farm, (775) 577-2069
· Great Basin Basket CSA, (775)843-6402
· Great Basin Community Food Co-op, (775) 324-6133
· NevadaGrown, (775) 351-2551
· Local Harvest

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