Ashley Hennefer is the Green Editor at the Reno News & Review, the editor of Wildflower Magazine, and a graduate student the University of Nevada, Reno. Born and raised in the Bay area, she’s lived in Northern Nevada for ten years and has fallen in love with its agricultural community and environment. Check out her personal blog, follow her on Twitter or add her on Facebook.
Farmers Market Update: Reno, Nevada
By Ashley Hennefer
We Nevadans love our agriculture, and here in Northern Nevada we have a unique and vibrant farmers market culture. While our unpredictable weather has its perks—including our beautiful snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountain range and an abundance of frost-thriving apple trees—it also means that our farmers market season is short. By mid-September, nearly all of our markets are closed. We have a great local food co-op in Reno and several of our farms are open throughout the year, but that’s about it. Luckily, Reno’s Garden Shop Nursery has begun hosting an indoor farmers market on Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and last weekend I checked it out.
The Garden Shop Nursery is especially beautiful during the fall and winter months, especially with all of their beautiful flowers.
I’m thankful that it is close to my house so I can still go to the market even when it snows. I was not expecting the market to be very big—and I was right. The little market was tucked away in the back corner of the nursery. However, the vendors and Garden Shop Nursery staff did a great job setting up all of the tables. There was a pleasantly decent selection of items to choose from, and all of the vendors from Nevada and California were enthusiastic and passionate about their products.
I had an idea of what I wanted to purchase: I’ve been on soup-making kick, so I wanted to find a few items to use for that. I also wanted to find some great seasonal items, and maybe a few things I’d never tried before.
Despite the size of the market, everything was nicely displayed in baskets and bins. I got there around half way through the day and there was a crowd, although it may have just seemed that way because of the size of the room. It was warm and cozy and everything smelled great.
I first stopped to check out the onions, garlic, potatoes and squash. We picked three onions and a small spaghetti squash.
We use garlic often in my household but I passed on it this time since I am growing some of my own. I also passed on potatoes, although they looked tempting displayed in their baskets.
Because we got there after the initial rush, we missed some of the items, like farm fresh eggs (bummer!), which sold almost instantly according to the vendor. The vendor also had other items on display such as locally made pet food, salsa and tortilla chips.
I passed on all of these, although I tried a sample of the salsa and it was delicious. It’s on my list for this week’s shopping!
Another vendor, who had ventured to Reno from Northern California, had an eclectic assortment. His produce was very colorful and unique.
I could eat tomatoes 24/7 but they are hard to come by at this time of year since our climate is harsh on these types of plants. I did score a few, which ended up being flavorful but not nearly as much as the ones I had a few weeks earlier (one of the many sacrifices we Nevadans make).
There were some bitter melons available, which I think are really cool looking, but these ones looked a bit moldy.
I was surprised at the presence of jujubes—which I’ve actually never had before! I didn’t really know what to do with them so I didn’t get any but if there are some this weekend I might try them out.
There were also persimmons, which I’ve never had before either. I recently saw an interesting recipe for using them on a pizza and figured I’d give it a try, plus their lovely orange color was too tempting to pass up.
Green beans are a favorite of mine and I snagged some before they were all gone.
Pomegranates are one of my favorite seasonal foods and the vendor had a nice selection, including this giant one! This photo doesn’t do it justice but this is definitely the largest pomegranate I’ve ever had.
There were also walnuts which I thought would be great on the persimmon pizza I plan to make.
We got some red and black plums but the bin for the white was nearly empty already.
After our bag was heavy with fruits and veggies, we headed to the meat area. We have some amazing farms around here and I really wanted to get some fresh cuts. I was surprised to see a fish vendor, who had also traveled from California, but he had sold most of his inventory. I’m curious to see what he will have available this week.
I could smell the sausage from Collis Ranch table several feet away. Luckily they were giving out samples (I love free samples).
We bought two packages of sausage since we rarely eat it—one spicy and one mild–and both types were delicious.
There were other items at the farmers market like olive oil concoctions, handmade bags and jewelry, but I’m kind of a traditionalist and chose to stick just with food. I was surprised at how many items we were able to get even at a small market. I plan to visit weekly, and as much as I love Nevada winters, I look forward to what the spring brings.
My bounty (pictured above):
- Black plums
- Red plums
- Green beans
- Small spaghetti squash
- Sausage from Collis Ranch
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