Farmers cultivate downtown

Five weeks after its opening night, Reno's Downtown Farmers Market is still cultivating customers and vendors.

Ann Louhela, president of the Nevada Certified Farmers Market Association, says the market's emphasis has been on providing food to the downtown area and promoting local agriculture. The Downtown Farmers Market, located at the city ice skating rink between Center and Virginia streets, has about six to 10 farmers each week selling their goods, a number Louhela says will increase as the market grows in popularity.

"For the most part we are trying to bring in more food products, packaged food and local artisans. We want downtown merchants to bring a sampling of what they have got so people see what kind of retail stores are downtown."

Northern Nevada farmers include Lattin Farms and Workman Farms of Fallon. Other local vendors include Hidden Valley Honey and Joy's Honey Ranch of Reno. The venue has given such vendors yet another outlet for their wares. "Farmers markets are very much an incubator for small business," Louhela says.

Two of the main obstacles the event has overcome are the unrelenting heat and the fact that the event started in late June and missed some early-summer momentum. "It's been a bit of a challenge in getting the word out," Louhela says. "There are a lot of farmers markets in town. Also (it's a challenge) just getting people to come downtown. So much has changed in last 10 years."

Parking is available around the site, as well as at both Cal Neva parking garages. Louhela says local residents and the downtown office crowd are becoming Friday night regulars. Costs for the event have been kept at a minimum, with sponsors like Cal Neva and Siena helping with a small amount of advertising.


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