News

Harvest Festivals

By at October 3, 2017 | 7:01 am | 0 Comment

The chill in the air and the changing of the leaves mean fall has arrived across Nevada. And with the season comes plenty of fun-filled festivities. Several farms across the state hold harvest festivals in October, and many include pumpkin patches and corn mazes to test your skills. Unlike Linus and Charlie Brown who spent a chilly night waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive, you don’t have to go to such extremes to enjoy a great pumpkin patch.

Andelin Family Farm in Sparks holds an annual fall festival with activities and fun for all ages. New this year, Monday Night Family Night with a corn maze treasure hunt and glow paintball. Festival-goers can enjoy a corn maze, pumpkin patch, animal rides and more. The festival runs daily through October. For more information, visit their website www.andelinfamilyfarm.com .

The pumpkin patch at Corley Ranch in Gardnerville is open seven days a week, but things get more fun on the weekends with activities such as a hay slide, a straw maze just for kids, mini golf, pig races and a corn maze. There’s also a giant sling shot just for apples! More information at  www.corleyranch.com

Lattin Farms in Fallon is known for its creative corn mazes. This year’s theme is Curious George. It should test just about anyone’s navigation skills. The maze is open Fridays and Saturdays through October, and there are plenty of other activities, as well. For info, visit www.lattinfarms.com

The Lazy P Farm in Winnemucca holds its annual harvest festival on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October. You’ll have a frightful time when you test your fear factor in the Barn of Terror! There are activities for kids of all ages including a pumpkin patch, a flashlight corn maze and much more. The details are at www.lazypfarm.com.

Residents of Smith Valley can visit Renner Farms in Smith. Its pumpkin patch and corn maze are open seven days a week. Be sure to bring a magnifying glass because this year’s festival features a Sherlock Holmes theme! Info is at www.rennerfarms.co.

You can enjoy some tasty treats at the Gilcrease Orchard in Las Vegas during October. Snack on apple cider donuts, kettle corn and apple cider while enjoying the 10-acre pumpkin patch. You can also pick your own fruit while you are there. Gilcrease Orchard is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Details at www.thegilcreaseorchard.org.

Be sure to check the websites listed for complete and up-to-date information before heading out. Visit the Events page on our NevadaGrown website for information about festivals throughout the year in Nevada. Wherever you go, take the time to enjoy the beautiful fall colors throughout the beautiful state of Nevada.

 

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Love to Eat, Hate to Cook?

By at September 3, 2017 | 12:45 pm | 0 Comment

Love to eat, but hate to cook? Tired of spending all that money eating out or ordering in? The good news is that it’s never too late to learn to cook. Plus, you don’t need to go to a fancy culinary school to master the craft. In fact, many hugely successful celebrity chefs, including Rachel Ray, Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten, are mostly self-taught! And while you most likely won’t land a cooking show, maybe you’ll be inspired to learn to confidently prepare a great tasting meal for your family.

We put together some ideas to get you started:   Just like so many other things, there’s an app for that! Many cooks, from novice to professional, use apps for cooking tutorials. Check out apps from Big Oven, All Recipes Dinner Spinners, All the Cooks Recipes and The Food Network. You can even find great cooking tutorials on YouTube.

Taking a class is also a great way to start. Lara Richie, owner of the Nothing to It Culinary Center in Reno, believes that mastering a few skills such as dicing and slicing is a good way to start and then move on to cooking techniques such as sautéing and roasting. You can often find a variety of cooking related courses at your local community college. An online search could turn up a several options in your community.

Consider investing in a few good tools. The right ones can make the job much easier. Start out with a  good knife,  a

couple of good pots and pans and maybe a meat thermometer. You can often find deals on high end products in some of the discount stores in your area. A good pan can make a world of difference when you are sautéing and a good knife will make it so much easier to make clean slices.

Keep a well-stocked pantry. It should include plenty of canned goods such as tomatoes, beans, broths and tuna, plus dry starches like pasta and rice. Don’t forget the condiments and your favorite dried herbs and spices.

Remember to keep it simple. Don’t try to recreate a fancy restaurant meal right away. Focus on basics. When looking at recipes search out those with 5 ingredients or less. Don’t stress, cooking can actually be fun!

A final but important consideration.  Buy local when you can, it will be the freshest. Charlie Abowd, chef/owner of Café at Adele’s in Carson City recommends shopping your local farmers market and asking the grower how they like to prepare a particular fruit or vegetable.  He says  hat the best meals always start with the best ingredients.

News

Need a Reason to Eat in Season?

By at July 13, 2017 | 9:16 am | 0 Comment

Need a reason to eat in season? Do it for the health of it!

 

But first, what is seasonal eating? Simply put, it’s focusing your diet around what’s in season in your area.  You might think it’s part of the latest food trend, but seasonal eating has been around for centuries. Think about it, what did people eat before modern transportation and hi tech greenhouses? They ate what they could grow in their local climate during certain seasons. Makes sense, doesn’t it? So, let’s talk about other reasons to eat in season.

 

One of the best reasons is simple. In season fruits and vegetables just taste better. Think about it, who doesn’t love a crisp, fall apple?  How about tender asparagus in the spring, a flavorful tomato in the heat of summer, or comforting squash in the fall? There’s a reason those grocery store tomatoes are so tasteless over the winter. They are out of season! Produce picked in season at its peak is always tastier.

 

Seasonal eating can be good for your health. Practitioners of holistic and Chinese medicine believe that eating seasonal food keeps us in harmony with nature. While those medicinal practices have evolved over the centuries, their philosophies of eating with the seasons have remained. Practitioners say seasonal eating boosts the immune system and helps ward off disease such as flu in the winter and colds during the transition to spring. Seasonal eating also increases the variety of foods in your diet as the foods change through the seasons of the year.

Your financial health is another good reason for seasonal eating. It’s a fact, eating in season fruits and vegetables will save you money. Seasonal produce is usually abundantly available, and that translates to lower prices. Out of season produce is usually priced higher because of the cost to grow it as well as transporting it to your local store. Those out of season fruits from Mexico and South America generally come at a steep price.

 

Seasonal eating benefits the health of your community. When you buy local, seasonal food, the money stays in your community. Even better, buy your produce at a local farmers market or food co-op. Then, most, if not all, of your money goes to the farmer who grew the crop. And you help cut down on the environmental impact of shipping food hundreds if not thousands of miles.

 

One way to ensure you are eating seasonally (and locally) is to join a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. Many farms and food hubs offer baskets filled with fresh produce, dairy, eggs and even meat delivered to your home or a central pick up location on a regular basis. You’ll find a list of CSAs in your area on the NevadaGrown website at  http://nevadagrown.com/category/csa/. You’ll also find a comprehensive seasonal produce chart on the site.

 

Another way to learn about and enjoy seasonal eating is to become a regular at your local farmers market. You’ll find a wide variety of in season produce, and you can meet the farmers who grow your food. It’s a powerful connection! Who knows, you might discover that a fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before is now a new favorite.

 

One thing to keep in mind, seasonal eating doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. It’s more about being mindful when purchasing food and making the best choices for your physical and financial well-being and the health of your community.

 

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Why Buy Local?

By at May 17, 2017 | 4:16 pm | 0 Comment

Eat local. It’s a phrase we hear more and more these days, especially with farmers market season just around the corner. So many people are passionate about local food that a new word has cropped up… locavore. Local usually refers to anything grown or produced within 100 miles, but it’s not a hard-fast rule, depending on the product and where you live. The popularity of the locavore movement can be seen in the numbers. The local food industry generated $11.7 billion in sales in 2014, and is estimated to climb to $20.2 billion by 2019, according to market research studies.

So why jump on board the “eat local” train? The reasons are many!

Local produce tastes better. Local produce ripens in the field rather than in a truck or warehouse, and it’s picked at peak ripeness. Everyone pretty much agrees that no tomato comes close to a vine-ripened one when it comes to flavor. Produce from local farms is often harvested the same day or within 24 hours of going to market. It doesn’t get much fresher than that.

Local meats and dairy products taste better. Most small, local farms use sustainable practices, and livestock and poultry are raised on different diets than their mass-produced counterparts. This usually means better flavor and less antibiotics and hormones in your food. If you’ve never eaten fresh, local eggs, do so quickly! The taste and appearance will end any doubt about their superiority. It’s a flavor that can’t be bought at your local grocery store.

Local food is better for your health. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the more nutrients remain in the food. Food imported from far away is older and has traveled on trucks or planes, and sat in warehouses before it gets to you. It was most likely picked a week or more before getting to the supermarket shelves.

Local food supports local families. Buying directly from local farmers cuts out the middle man, meaning the farmer keeps the earnings. And the farmer hires workers to help grow, harvest and sell his product. That translates to more jobs and more money staying in your community.

Local food is seasonal and has more variety. Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons, and seasonal eating is healthier eating. Your body knows that it needs leafy greens in the spring, water-heavy foods like melons and tomatoes in the summer, and hearty foods like potatoes and winter squash to keep you fueled in the winter. Local farms grow varieties you won’t find in grocery stores, and local, seasonal food is often cheaper than super market prices.

Local foods support responsible land development. When you buy local foods, you support local farmers, help them stay in business, and possibly prevent a sale to a developer. Your purchases help maintain our open spaces and rural landscapes. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.

Local foods are good for local businesses. Today’s millennials, who account for 24 percent of the U.S. population flock to locally-grown and locally-made products. They are on the forefront of the locavore movement, and they eat and shop at restaurants and retailers that buy from local farms. These “locavore” restaurants attract tourists and other businesses and add a unique flavor to Nevada’s cities and towns.

As we head into farmers market season, it’s a good time to meet your local farmers and ranchers and learn about the abundance of food that is grown right here in Nevada. You’ll learn what’s in season, and you’ll discover new foods you can’t find at the grocery store. If you want to know more about local farms and ranches, restaurants that support them, and this summer’s farmers market schedule, you can find it all at www.nevadagrown.com.

 

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Hoop Hoop Hooray!

By at February 20, 2017 | 1:06 pm | 0 Comment

hoop house 2

 

They are a hot new trend on Nevada farms. Drive through Nevada’s rural counties, and you’ll see them popping up everywhere.  It’s not a new crop, but rather a new way to grow crops  in our region. They’re hoop houses, also called high tunnels. You’ll likely see more high tunnel designs on Nevada farms, as they have flat, rather than curved sides, allowing more growing space. A traditional hoop house is more like a Quonset hut. Many people interchange the words, and that’s ok. Either way, they’ve had a big impact on Nevada farming.

A hoop house or high tunnel is a simple structure, built using curved pipes covered with greenhouse plastic.  It’s the low tech, and unheated cousin of a modern greenhouse, using just sun and wind to control the temperature. Another difference is that greenhouse crops are often grown in pots on shelves, hoop house and high tunnel crops are generally grown in the ground using native soil.

Hoop houses began popping up in Nevada about 15 years ago, but really gained popularity over the past five years.  Credit the area’s harsh winters, unpredictable weather, high winds and short growing season for that.  A hoop house can extend the traditional growing season by at least two months, and some farmers are able to grow cold-hardy crops year round inside a hoop house.

 

hoop house latingLattin Farms was an early adopter of hoop houses and high tunnels. Rick Lattin now has 19 on his property in Fallon. This winter he is growing and harvesting carrots, kale, spinach, and several lettuces. Not only do the houses benefit his farming operation, they also benefit Fallon residents who are able to eat local, fresh produce in the coldest months. Much of the produce is delivered to the Fallon Food Hub.

 

 

Lotspeith Family Farms near Elko is in its second season of hoop house farming.
Dan Lotspeith says his winter lotspeithspinach and carrots are exceptionally sweet and flavorful. He’s also growing Swiss chard and snap peas. He says despite subzero temperatures this winter they will have a nice harvest next month. Dan agrees that hoop house farming is a great idea and he is planning to triple his number of structures.

Holley Family Farms grows cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, greens and some root vegetables in six hoop houses on their Dayton farm. The houses allow them to get a jump start on the growing season and have fresh produce at the early farmers markets in Western Nevada. Rob Holley and all the farmers we talked to, say not only do hoop houses extend the growing season, but they also help produce a better crop of tomatoes and peppers in the summer. The structures protect the plants from Nevada’s hot and dry winds and create a better growing environment and better produce which is more appealing to consumers.

It’s not always easy to find local produce in the winter, but the Fallon Food Hub in Fallon and Great Basin Community Food Co-op in Reno are two good places to look. You can also find it in some local restaurants. City Green Gardens in Reno just harvested winter kale for The Old Granite Street Eatery in Reno, and they also provide produce to 4th Street Bistro, La Strada, Roxy’s and Grateful Gardens.

There’s no reason to believe that the popularity of hoop houses and high tunnels will wane anytime soon as there is really no downside. We’re betting more and more hoops and tunnels will be setting down roots across the state. Want to learn more? Go to www.hightunnels.org.

 

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Food, Festivities and Fruitcake!

By at December 13, 2016 | 1:37 pm | 0 Comment

Ah, the holidays: the time of year we celebrate with food, festivities and dare we say fruitcake?  Love it or loathe it, it’s an iconic symbol of the season.

fruitcake-1Fruitcakes date back to ancient Rome. Their compact size and long shelf life made them a favorite of Roman soldiers who brought them to the battle fields. An early recipe lists pomegranate seeds, pinenuts and raisins as primary ingredients. The cakes quickly became popular throughout Europe, with many countries creating their own variations. Dried fruits, honey and other spices found their way into the cakes during the Middle Ages, alcohol was added during the Victorian Era. When the cakes caught on in America, they became even sweeter and nuttier due to the low cost of sugar and nuts. They also became boozier, as alcohol-soaked loaves had a much longer shelf life.

So how did the humble holiday cake get so maligned? Some blame Johnny Carson. The late night show host once joked in his monologue that there was really only one fruitcake in the world, and it just kept getting passed around. However, even before The Tonight Show, fruitcake was the butt of jokes on Father Knows Best and the Donna Reed Show. But, public opinion may have begun to change much earlier in 1913 when the cakes became massed produced and available via mail order.

fruitcake-2

Whether you are a fan or not, you might enjoy a few fun fruitcake facts:

  • Fruitcake has traveled to space. A pineapple fruitcake traveled on board Apollo 11 with Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. However, they must not have liked it since it returned to earth uneaten and is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
  • Truman Capote based a popular short story on a fruitcake baking escapade. Published in 1956 “A Christmas Memory”, tells the story of two cousins, one in her 60s the other just seven, who spend a day baking fruitcakes for an eclectic group of friends. The story in now part of many holiday celebrations.
  • Two American towns claim to be the “Fruitcake Capitol of the World”. Claxton, Georgia, and Corsicana, Texas, both boast the title. Collin Street Bakery in Texas has been making the cakes since 1986. And the Georgia Fruit Cake Company in Claxton, Georgia, claims to bake four million pounds of fruitcake a year.
  • December 27 is National Fruit Cake Day.
  • A cake well soaked in alcohol can last years. In fact, a Michigan family has a cake baked in 1878. Jay Leno bravely sampled it on the Tonight Show in 2003.
  • In the 1800s, unmarried English wedding guests would put a slice of fruitcake under their pillow to help them dream about their future spouse.

Now, we know there are tasty fruitcakes out there. In another tie to The Tonight Show, Truman Capote’s cousin Marie Rudisill published a collection of fruitcake recipes titled Fruitcake in an effort to improve the cake’s reputation. The book brought an invitation to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Johnny Carson’s successor. During her appearance, Rudisill taught Leno and guest Mel Gibson the art of fruitcake making. It was such a hit that she appeared several more times on the show in her own segment, The Fruitcake Lady.

Whether you are enjoying fruitcake or not this holiday season, we hope all of our NevadaGrown family and friends celebrate and enjoy the season with family and friends – even if you believe a few of them are nuttier than a fruitcake.

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NevadaGrown is a nonprofit Nevada corporation whose mission is to foster the success of sustainable agriculture and to encourage healthy eating for Nevada's communities through education, support and promotion.

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