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Local flavor helps wrap up summer in Sparks
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Sep 19, 2013 | 2198 views | 1 1 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Barry Wood splashes some of his B-Dubb's Hot Sauce on a corn chip Thursday afternoon at the Great Basin NevadaGrown Farmer's Market in downtown Sparks. The event has seen a major increase in vendor participation in 2013.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Barry Wood splashes some of his B-Dubb's Hot Sauce on a corn chip Thursday afternoon at the Great Basin NevadaGrown Farmer's Market in downtown Sparks. The event has seen a major increase in vendor participation in 2013.
A steady flow of people crept up to booths of local farmers Thursday evening as the Great Basin NevadaGrown Farmer’s Market continued rolling through another season of boasting local flavors in downtown Sparks.

The market may appear cramped as it was nestled alongside Great Basin Brewery, but with double the vendors participating in 2013, the market is right where it should be, according to organizer and director Ann Louhela. Louhela said the venue only allows for about 14 vendors before hiking up costs, and she said keeping the cozy space adds to the overall vibe of the event.

“What is nice about this market is you can come down here and buy dinner,” Louhela said. “You can buy eggs, meat, vegetables, salsa, dessert -- and that’s pretty much what you want in a farmer’s market. You can have 50 vendors, but with 14 and a small market you can meet the farmers and the people who actually make the products.

“I think that is what is unique about this market, whether it is the food processor or the farmer, these are the guys that are making it. Those people are all behind the tables tonight. A lot of them have things processed in Reno as well, so they are keeping all of the money in northern Nevada.”

The Great Basin NevadaGrown market occurs every Thursday in September from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m., highlighting the peak harvest season for Nevada farmers, such as Andelin Family Farms headquartered off Pyramid Highway in Spanish Springs. Natalie Andelin and her family sold a variety of corn and other vegetables to patrons Thursday night, and Andelin said the Great Basin market was the family’s first attempt at selling from the sidewalk.

“For us, it is nice because we have our big corn harvest in September,” Andelin said. “This one is perfect timing. Most crops in Nevada you cannot start farming as early as you can in California so this part of the year is perfect for us. It is a good atmosphere and there have been a lot of friendly people coming down to shop.

“I like being able to network with the other farmers and being able to be a part of something in the community that involves all of the farmers. You feel you have all of that in common and we are all trying to make it happen.”

Keeping with the trend of buying dinner at the farmer’s market, Kyle Huddy brought several large coolers full of grass-fed meat from All Natural Nevada Food Company. He said though his product caters to a different scope of customers, he has seen success in local markets, which included the Sparks Farmer’s Market in Victorian Square.

“The crowd has been really receptive about what we have,” Huddy said. “We have had a really good response because people are really changing how they eat and they want to stay local and the grass-fed component is important.

“For what I do, it is a little bit different because we are not fruits and vegetables, we are meat. People don’t always expect to see meat at a market and so they are a little surprised. Because it is a little more expensive, we have a little different demographic compared to the other booths.”

Still, Huddy said the quaint Great Basin market suits his company well.

“The Victorian Square market is a lot bigger and draws a lot bigger crowd, whereas this market is much smaller but it is more Nevada-grown products. There are not as much arts and crafts and things like that so people are really coming here just to get food.”

It was tough for many to resist sampling B-Dubb’s Hot Sauce and Chow Chow where a unique blend of sweet and heat had many visitors widening their eyes, according to owner Barry Wood. Wood’s products add flavor to “everything from corn chips to apple pie” and he said his time at smaller markets in Fallon and Gardnerville has him searching for more ways to market his different products.

“I enjoy them all but this one in particular is a larger crowd. Live music is always nice and you just get a lot of traffic through here and a wonderful bunch of people, including the other vendors,” Wood said. “You meet so many wonderful people down here and you can talk to anybody from Nevada because they are so great. You start off talking about the product; then before you know it, you’re telling stories.”

Louhela said the vendors may have reached capacity but she would like to see more customer traffic come through the market in the coming years. She said the market will always be a place to get food that’s grown closest to home.

“I want to see even more people down here and keep it busy for the full four hours,” Louhela said. “You see a lot of people getting in touch with their food and this is the time of year when you can get a lot of the local produce, you can get it inexpensive and you can freeze it for the future.”
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September 20, 2013
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