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As fresh as you can get

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Greg Thilmont

Fresh produce at the Master Gardner Orchard

Our July pie feature has everything from recommendations on the valley’s best pies to tips from pastry pros on how to bake the perfect crust. But what if you wanted to make your own dream pie from the freshest local ingredients?

Nestled along the border of North Las Vegas lies a green, prodigious swath of fruit trees that most Southern Nevadans — let alone home pie bakers — probably have no idea exists. This verdant oasis, the Master Gardner Orchard, has taken root next to the ancient badlands of what’s now known as the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument.

A part of the University of Nevada – Reno Cooperative Extension program, the decades-old orchard isn't just a botanical research outpost where experts discover how to best grow delectable food in the dry Mojave Desert, it’s also a shopping opportunity for Nevadans baking summertime pies, galettes and quiches. 

Three mornings a week, volunteers and staff load up tables with produce grown in orchard’s leafy, irrigated rows. Offerings range seasonally, but this month look for stone fruits like apricots, peaches, nectarines and apriums. For savory pies, pick up tomatoes, collard greens, shallots and fresh herbs. Of course, if you just want some super-fresh fruits and veggies outside of a pie, that’s fine too.

It’s a fun, earthy switch-up from heading to the grocery store or even a farmers market. Plus, if you’re a home gardener who’s working on improving their green thumb skills, you can get some free sage advice, too. If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood, the pie filling station is just a short drive north of Aliante Casino + Hotel + Spa.

(4600 Horse Drive, 702-257-5555; hours: Tue, Thu, Sat, 8a-noon)

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