Eco-Nights at West Street Market
Art+Music+Eco Friday Nights turn a downtown spotlight on the environment
Danger Bowman, age 4, has no idea what beneficial organisms are, but he’s spraying them all over the demonstration garden during Eco-Night at the West Street Urban Market. He’s getting help from “worm guy” Darren Murphy, owner of Sierra Worm Solutions, who concocts this brew to make the plants here stronger.
“I’m the worm guy, and I’m spreading worm tea,” says Murphy.
Music to a 4-year-old boy named Danger’s ears.
The garden, full of dinner plate-sized squash leaves, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, herbs and other edibles, was planted in the median of West Street downtown. It encompasses the new urban market’s emphasis on local food as well as the environment.
“It’s a demonstration garden to show you can grow food in the unlikeliest of places,” says Leslie Allen of the UNR Cooperative Extension, who planted the garden along with groups of local food advocates.
While an “Eco-Night” may conjure up political activist notions for some, these events created by Nevada EcoNet are mostly about introducing people to local groups, businesses and causes that might improve their own life as well as the environment.
“There’s nothing political about growing vegetables,” says Allen.
This week marks the eco-market’s transition from Wednesday to Friday nights, when it will combine with the Holland Project’s artisans market already taking place. The market is now called Art+Music+Eco Friday Nights. Similar to mini-Earth Days but now with a stronger arts presence, each week features a different theme, played out both environmentally and artistically.
“There’s so much around here, you don’t have to go far to be a tourist,” says EcoNet’s Lauren Siegel, holding a compostable glass filled with local Buckbean Brewery beer during Eco-Tourism night. Beneath the REI booth, outdoor writer Mike White and landscape photographer Mark Vollmer sell their books and photos. The Friends of Black Rock High Rock, the UNR Cooperative Extension, and Planned Parenthood talk with market-goers and offer brochures. Further down the tent of vendors, Karen Woods of The Sleep Shop sells organic mattresses and pillows, and Tina Bowman, owner of Battleborn Candles and Danger’s mom, sells her homemade soy candles.
“I love it,” says Vollmer of the market. “We just need to get more people here.”
The crowds aren’t swarming tonight. However, many people aren’t aware the West Street Market is open at all. The market’s courtyard and indoor construction have both been delayed, though the city’s Downtown Redevelopment Agency thinks freeing up Wednesdays will help move construction along. The market is to open permanently in October, and the courtyard is expected to open this month.
Despite logistical set-backs, some intriguing Eco-Nights are underway, featuring everything from greening up your Burning Man experience to eco-friendly beauty products and renewable energy. (See column note.)
“I think a lot of people are thinking more about the environment, beyond the natural environment and recycling,” says Siegel. “There are facets of their life they can make more healthy.”