The farmers market season kicks off locally today in the Pony Express Pavilion, and Saturday at 3rd & Curry streets with Nevada-grown produce and other fresh-from-the-farm treats.
"We have a couple of new vendors this year, plus crafters, produce, beef and pork," said Robin Carthen, vice president of Crystal Bridge Enterprises which sponsors the market in the Pony Express Pavilion as well as many in the Reno/Sparks area.
"Carson is our second-oldest market," Carthen said. "It was in 1994 or '95. We're really looking forward to this year."
Also new this year, she said, will be a coffee vendor and a fresh eggs vendor, but they might not be at today's opening.
"It's going to be a good season for us, though," Carthen said.
The market is open today from 3-7 p.m. in the pavilion at Mills Park.
The 3rd & Curry Street Farmers Market Manager Linda Marrone, said she also has a couple of surprises for shoppers this year.
There will be a seafood vendor who supplies to the markets in South Lake Tahoe, and a new organic farm from Dayton - Holley Family Farms - which will be on hand selling eggs and taking orders for grass-fed beef hamburger. They also will offer vegetables and other produce.
"We'll have our 11 or 12 Nevada farmers, and we're keeping our same four California vendors," Marrone said.
Marrone said she started up the market season early this year, as she has in the past, offering shoppers a Spring Mini Farmers Market on Saturdays. This year it was in the Greenhouse Garden Center's south parking lot.
"Despite the weather, we had a very good turnout for the spring market," she said.
This Saturday, from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., shoppers can expect to find Rainier cherries and regular cherries, apricots, early peaches and strawberries. Local honey will be available, and in a few weeks, fresh flowers. Campy's Lavender Farm will offer plants and oils, and there will be the usual assortment of fresh food vendors who will offer breakfasts and lunches.
Marrone is especially pleased to be able to offer five organic farmers: Lattin, Rodriguez, Hungry Mother, Beautiful Foods and Holley Family.
Music is provided throughout the day. Pony rides for the kids are always a hit with Gidget and Gadget, Marrone said, and the Brewery Arts Center will be represented this year, as well.
"Our market is small, but we have a pretty good selection of vendors. We have free water and tables where people can eat. The Nevada Appeal also will have a booth giving away free newspapers, so people can get a cup of coffee, and sit down and read the paper," she said.
"This is a community gathering place where you can come and stay awhile, see your friends and neighbors or take a stroll downtown to visit some of our small businesses," she said, "and we have a bike valet."
Marrone reminds shoppers to bring their reusable shopping bags, and the BagLadeez will have some for sale, including mesh bags for veggies.
Trader Joe's also donates a case of their bags, and the market donates $1 from the sale of each to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada.
According to its bylaws, some of the purposes and benefits of the Nevada Certified Farmers' Market Association are to promote and encourage the development of self-sustaining, environmentally conscious regional certified farmers' markets; to educate consumers about the benefits of buying locally produced foods and agricultural products; and to provide a means to educate traditional agriculture producers, consumers, decision makers, restaurants and the general public about the scope, diversity and benefits of certified farmers' markets.
RSVP market coupons available
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program has 150 extra coupon books for fresh produce available for low-income seniors who have not previously received a book. If you have already received a book for the Farmers' Market, please do not apply again as applications are checked for duplication.
Seniors 60 years of age or older are eligible to apply as long as their income does not exceed $20,036 for a single senior or $26,955 for a couple. These are gross income amounts.
A coupon book valued at $30 contains 15 coupons worth $2 each coupon. Coupons can be spent individually or all at one time at the Carson City farmers markets.
Seniors are encouraged to spend as close to the $2 amount for each coupon as possible as change is not given from a coupon. These coupons expire Aug. 31, so seniors are encouraged to be sure to use them in a timely manner.
The coupons are exempt from state and local sales tax and are redeemable for fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey only.
As an added bonus, those receiving coupons will also be provided with a shopping bag courtesy of RSVP, carsonfarmersmarket.com and NCFMA/Nevada Grown.
To fill out an application and pick up your coupons, go to RSVP, 2621 Northgate Lane, No. 6, Monday thru Friday, from 9 a.m.-noon.
For more information, call Wendy at 687-4680, Ext. 0.