A high-nutrition crop called quinoa shows promise for surviving the low water and high winds of Northern Nevada. The hope is that quinoa, a gluten-free, high-protein grain, can be a profitable crop for small-scale farmers and could help strengthen the local food system. Healthy Communities Coalition of Lyon and Storey, a regional nonprofit, envisions a day when the region will have expanded quinoa and gluten-free grain-processing capabilities, and has been helping local farmers find spots to test out the viability of quinoa and other specialty crops.
For instance, early in the growing season this summer, farmers from Dirt Merchant Farms of Stagecoach cultivated test plots of amaranth, quinoa and quinoa’s “cousin crop,” lamb’s quarters, at the Dayton community garden on River Road. They also put in some quinoa test plants at the Silver Stage Community Garden near the local schools in Silver Springs. Next spring, they plan to try cultivating quinoa in Hawthorne, Fallon, Stagecoach and Yerington.
Jesse Alexander of Dirt Merchant Farms described the results of the quinoa test plots, saying, “all in all, I would call the Dayton patch successful. I can recommend it for large-crop rotation here in spring and fall and in Southern Nevada during the winter months.”
Quinoa and Nutrition
Quinoa has become more and more popular in recent years because it is a gluten-free, cholesterol-free grain with high iron, protein and fiber. One cup of cooked quinoa contains more than 8 grams of protein and about 15 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron. Due to its nutrient value, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has declared 2013 “The International Year of the Quinoa.”
You can find quinoa grain at the farmers markets at Community Roots in Dayton and at Penny Park in Silver Springs and at the Silver Stage Food Co-Op store on Spruce Avenue in Silver Springs. Seeds can be found through the Silver Stage Co-Op and Great Basin Community Food Co-Op in Reno.
The Healthy Communities Coalition is a regional nonprofit coalition composed of local, state, federal and tribal groups and community volunteers. For more information, call director Christy McGill at 775-246-7550.