Hoist a locally grown organic carrot in celebration, you avid foodies, gourmands and epicureans: A minor renaissance of farmers’ markets is taking root in the valley. Next month, a new weekly indoor farmers’ market launches downtown; meanwhile, the beloved Bet on the Farm also plans to revive its popular weekly market, this time at the Springs Preserve.
On July 14, the Downtown FEED Farmer’s Market kicks off inside Club Azul from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and every Thursday after. FEED stands for Fremont East Entertainment District, but it’s also a fitting word to reflect the market’s goal of nourishing Vegas urbanites who might otherwise subsist on lattes and pad Thai.
“It’s a great opportunity to bring produce and fresh food to an urban environment,” says Gina Gavan of Project Dinner Table. She worked with the entertainment district to put together the weekly event. “Because it’s a central location, this market will be easy for both chefs and the professional community to access — or anyone who’s near the 95 or the 15.” Gavan also figures that Club Azul, with its rolling garage doors and street-facing front, will boost the new market’s visibility and accessibility. (Club Azul is located at 115 7th St., across from the El Cortez.)
Bet on the Farm farmers’ market closed at its popular southwest location in February after running into a licensing snafu with the county. But Doug Taylor, executive pastry chef for Mario Batali and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension employee, says he’s putting the finishing touches on transplanting Bet on the Farm to the Springs Preserve. It could open as early as next month. “We want to continue bridging the gap between farming communities and the Southern Nevada community,” says Taylor. “That fits perfectly with the Springs Preserve’s mission of education.”
[HEAR MORE: Listen to "KNPR's State of Nevada" on the new downtown farmers market.]
Both FEED and Bet on the Farm will take place indoors — a crucial factor in Vegas’ leaf-wilting heat. That means they’ll attract vendors and producers who shy away from the valley’s outdoor markets because the temperatures can wreak hot havoc on their delicate vegetables. Now, for instance, grower Diane Greene of Herbs by Diane will have a place to sell her English mint and calendula petals. “We got spoiled by Bet on the Farm (being indoors),” she says. “We’ve been waiting for an indoor market to come back.”
Besides being a boon for both farmers and foodies, there’s a broader benefit as well, says Bob Morris, a horticulture specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “It’s about making fresh produce available to people, but it’s also about keeping food dollars in Nevada,” says Morris, considered a kind of Johnny Appleseed who led the way in connecting regional growers with both megaresort chefs and fervent foodists, opening up whole new markets. “Once those dollars are gone, they’re gone. But if we keep them in the state, it turns into a multiplier effect.” Call it a different kind of crop circle.