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Farmers markets are the place to shop for nutritious, tasty produce

Linda Marrone
For the Appeal
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal This arrangement is a sampling of what is available at the Downtown Carson City farmers market. Beginning on Saturday the market will be open from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Third and Curry streets.
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I have been shopping at roadside fruit stands and farmers markets forever it seems. Back in the ’80s a farmer named Bruce Gossett came from Yuba City every weekend starting around mid May and set up his “fruit stand” on the corner of Highway 50 and Dayton Valley Road, where the Chevron station is now. There was no traffic light on that corner back then, just a guy selling wonderful tomatoes, peaches, plums, watermelons and whatever else he grew. I missed Bruce when he stopped coming up to sell his produce. It was not too long after that the farmer’s market movement and community supported agriculture took hold.

If you have been reading my column for a while, you know that I was in community supported agriculture for 13 years and received a basket from Smith & Smith Farms. So, when Brenda Smith gave us all the sad news that she was moving to Oregon and taking a job with the government as a weed entomologist, we were “bummed” to say the least. With the closing of that door came an unexpected opportunity and a dream job for me.

Tammy Westergard, who works for Carson City’s Economic Redevelopment, called me in late March and asked if I would be interested in helping start a downtown Saturday morning market. My response was yes, yes, yes! I hang out at the markets anyway, so getting to be there all day, even though is it considered a “job” was right up my alley!

The downtown Carson City Saturday morning market will be in the city-owned parking lot at 3rd and Curry streets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting this Saturday, and running through October. In the next few months I’ll be talking about all the benefits of shopping at the market and profiling some of the different vendors who are going to be there.

One of the main reasons for buying direct from the farmers is that the food tastes so much better. Zucchini just pulled from the vine has a sweet tenderness that is lacking in those that have made a five day trip in a refrigerated van. Onions that arrive still encrusted in dirt are richer tasting that the ones that have been sitting in supermarket bins for months. Farmers markets are about the mutually rewarding connection between farmer and consumer. Farmers and communities join together to support each other so that we can receive the freshest, most nutritious and tastiest produce and the farmers, knowing that their crops will be sold, can concentrate on farming. It’s a win-win! The best way to learn about what foods are going to be available is to walk through the market, speak to growers and most important, to think seasonal.

There will be a mix of new vendors: Bravo Farms, Hungry Mother Organics, Nevada’s Own Perennials, Dinner is Served, Calolea Olive Oil and some that you are already familiar with: Lattin Farms, flowers from Smith & Smith Farms, Molly’s, Alyssa’s Bakery, Comma Coffee, Absolutely Michelle’s, Garden Scents and a few others. The market is still a work and progress and will continue to be so for this first season. It’s the place to be on Saturday mornings! Come down, relax and visit with your friends and neighbors. (Yes, we will have tables and chairs, Maize) Bring the whole family and enjoy the experience of vine-ripened fruits and vegetables, a selection of plants and local eats. Farmers markets are the place to shop and a great place to be.

I hope to see you there, and if I don’t and I have your phone number, I’ll be calling you (Clark Russell, Mike Fondi, Dorothy Palmer, Steve Hartman, John Wilhelm, Jerry Massad, Tony Fish, John Procaccini, Mayor Marv, Board of Supervisors, and anyone else I can think of).

On a last note, I’m going to share recipes with you that will feature in season produce that you can pick up at the market and bring home. We will also be passing out recipes and serving suggestions at the market. This first recipe comes from my friend Brenda Smith, who loaned me 13 years worth of her words of farm wisdom and recipes that I’ll be passing on to you.

This next recipe is great for any occasion, healthy and only has 50 calories per tablespoon.

Chocolate Dip with Strawberries

3 cups of strawberries, rinsed and left whole

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 tablespoon agave* (found at Trader Joe’s) or honey

1/2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon hot water

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch or arrowroot

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoon peanut butter, optional

*Agave is a natural sweetener extracted from the Agave plant. 1 tablespoon has about 60 calories but you don’t need much of it to sweeten anything.

Combine water and baking chocolate and agave in saucepan and heat gently over low heat until chocolate is melted and it is whisked smooth. Whisk in cocoa powder till smooth. Cool.

Add corn starch or arrowroot and heat until slightly thickened. Stir in vanilla and optional peanut butter. Serve as a dip or drizzle over berries or any fruit and serve.

Quick Ideas for Chard

Here are a couple of serving suggestions for Swiss Chard from Brenda Smith.

Chard may not be an everyday vegetable for many, but we find it very enjoyable. You can put it in many recipes that call for spinach like a spinach lasagna, use the chard stems and all as they are very small. Also, if you make your own pizza, chard makes a good topping and it is great in stir fry. Of course lightly steamed with a bit of butter is good too.

• Linda Marrone has been a Carson City resident since 1973 and together with her husband, Ralph, formerly operated Marrone’s Restaurant in Carson City and Somethin’s Cookin’ Catering.