SPARKS — It began as a challenge, a dare from a lavender farmer who told Patricia and Rusty Hyde the demand for herbs at the farmer’s markets he attended was high enough that he was going to begin growing them. This farmer has been the continuing inspiration to the Hydes, who attended their first Sparks Farmer’s Market on Thursday.
“He said he was only going to give us one chance to say yes,” Patricia said. “It began as a challenge but we are very outgoing people and we need something to get us the heck out of the house. We have been doing this and we enjoy it.”
Patricia and Rusty have been growing their fresh herbs in Dayton for about four years. Their acre of land allows them to maintain everything from basil to spearmint plants in two greenhouses and several gardens, which they begin planting and tending to in early March.
“We start as early as possible in the garage with heaters and lights and try to get them in prime condition for the early markets in the season,” Rusty said. They attend markets in Reno and Sparks during the week and feel that the variety of herbs they offer is what keeps people stopping by their tent.
“We think people are interested in learning new things. A lot of people come by our stand and say “I’m just looking at what you have that I don’t have,’” Patricia said. “We welcome that interest in different things. We get people talking to us about their own herbs and it is always great to have those conversations.”
Hyde’s Herbs offers some plants to accompany their herbs, such as jalapeno and tomato plants to provide a little diversity to their selection. They offer such plants as rosemary, onion chives, orange and banana mint and thyme. Basil has been their consistent best-selling item because of the flavor it provides to almost anything. Patricia said fresh herbs make a difference when it comes to supplementing drinks and food.
“The first thing is taste. Everything tastes better with fresh herbs in it,” she said. “Some of them have medicinal benefits and we do a few tomato and parsley plants and people like to have that variety.” She added that the different types of mints they sell go great in teas and the spearmint makes the perfect to a mojito.
In their time attending Reno and Sparks farmer’s markets, the Hydes have found the most enjoyable part to be conversing with people who are interested in herbs, grow their own herbs or just genuinely want to know more about their plants.
“People come by to tell us how the things they bought from us are doing and we enjoy the camaraderie and interaction with them,” Patricia said adding that their ability to converse with other farmers extends their knowledge of the craft.
The Hydes pack up their plants and head back to Dayton, their home of 10 years, after each market and plan to continue coming to this summer’s markets until the season ends in mid September. They continually chat with their mentor in California in the off season trying to find new ideas and plants that may have a demand for the following summer. As far as the future is concerned, the retired couple said they will probably be selling herbs for years to come.
“Why not,” Patricia said when asked if they plan to continue farming and gardening. “Rusty reminded me I wasn’t that old yet because we have friends who are doing this and are much older.”