There’s grocery store produce, and then there’s real produce
Farm-fresh Heirloom tomatoes are a favorite of Everett Myers.
“I like to just slice ’em, chill ’em, put just a little salt on ’em and eat ’em in a sandwich,” the retired schoolteacher says. “My wife makes wonderful salsa, too. We can it and have it all winter. You can make it spicy, but we make it medium.”
His tomato sandwich description makes my mouth a bit damp. Tangy ripe tomatoes, gushing with juicy seeds, are one of my favorite tastes of summer.
Myers shares my enthusiasm for all things produce. That’s because Myers, who moved to Sparks 10 years ago, helps run a farmers’ market in Sparks.
No, not the Hometowne Market that draws thousands of people downtown on Thursday nights. Myers helps out with a much smaller market on Tuesday mornings at the Sparks United Methodist Church.
The market offers an abundant selection of the same kind of products featured at Thursday night food fests in downtown Sparks—without the crowds.
In its sixth year, farmers set up shop in the church parking lot to sell cherries, blueberries, blackberries, Watsonville strawberries, Hearts of Gold melons, veggies, more veggies and all types of tomatoes—Early Girls, Shady Ladies and Big Boys.
One vendor brings in huge bags of green beans and “just dumps ’em out all over the table, and you can pick what you want,” Myers says.
In season, there’ll be peaches—Elberta, Red Haven, 49ers and Summersets—coming from orchards near Yuba City.
My mouth waters again when Myers talks about peaches—juicy, sweet, zingy, melt-in-your-mouth globes of goodness.
Myers boasts that the Methodist’s market on Tuesday mornings is one of the first of the week in Reno and Sparks.
“The farmers pick over the weekend and everything’s fresh,” Myers says.
For some shoppers, Myers’ market is a more manageable event than the Sparks Hometowne Farmers Market.
I admit I look forward to those weekly carnivals in downtown Sparks that combine produce booths with steak tacos, margaritas, lawn ornaments, beer, face-painting, strawberry daiquiris, clowns, cooking demonstrations, radio deejays, live bands and Thai food. So do thousands of others, who fight for parking, crowd the streets, eat giant onion rings and, as a kind of side note, stock up on Bing cherries.
The downtown market is one part fruits and veggies to two parts socializing.
The Methodists’ market is geared toward those individuals who just want a handy place to buy farm-fresh produce while perhaps chatting with a knowledgeable vendor about how to can peaches.
While there are no strawberry blender drinks in the church parking lot, there is parking, usually plenty of it.
“We’re very friendly,” Myers says. “It’s easy in and easy out. Our church youth participate by helping people carry produce to their car. It’s a big happy family.”
The market began several years ago when a group of seniors from the Methodist church saw a need for a more accessible market.
These church members did the ground work, and the idea took off. Every year, the market gets a bit bigger.
“We’re getting more and more Nevada farmers, small farmers from California and people selling gifts and what-have-you,” Myers says.
Lattin Farms has signed on for the season. The Fallon-based farming family offers more than their famous Hearts of Gold cantaloupe. Their produce line-up includes cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, squash and beans along with “value-added” products like hand-made breaks and gourmet jams and jellies.
There’ll be garlic, melons and veggies grown in Yerington; tomatoes, melons and fruits from Yuba City and all the sweet goodies one would expect from Joy’s Farm, a haven for honeybees operated northwest of Sun Valley by Leonard Joy.
Myers lauds Joy’s honey.
“He applies just enough heat to burn out the comb,” Myers says. “A lot of farmers run through intense heat processes that some say damage it. Leonard is very particular.”
For Myers, like many locals, farmers’ markets are something to be anticipated all year long. As the season approaches, Myers is more than ready to taste the tomatoes. And the peaches. And to see all his summer friends.
“I look forward to seeing all the vendors again,” Myers says. “And to seeing the customers come in and visit with us. We enjoy this … we’re really proud of it.”
I’m thinking that Tuesday mornings will be a great time to shop for actual produce.
Then I won’t have to carry around any bags on Thursday nights in downtown Sparks.
Sparks United Methodist Church Farmers Market
1231 Pyramid Way, Sparks
Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
June 6 to Sept. 19
Hometowne Farmers Market
Victorian Avenue, Sparks
Thursdays, 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
June 15-August 24
Reno Farmers Market I
California & Booth streets
Saturdays, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Fallon Farmers Market
Williams & Main Streets, Fallon
Tuesdays, 5 p.m.-8 p.m.
Fernley Farmers Market
The Out-of-Town Park
Corner of Highway 50 and
Farm District Road, Fernley
Wednesdays, 4 p.m.-8 p.m.
Carson Farmers Market
Pony Express Pavilion
Highway 50 East, Carson City
Wednesday, 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.