Vendors revel in the fruits of their labor

Keith Mallinson's juice-stained hands didn't seem to move fast enough to keep up with the crowd of people pressing him for baskets of blackberries at Wednesday's farmers market.

"We look like this all summer," he said, briefly holding up his hands before shoveling more berries into baskets.

Mallinson has sold his berries at the Carson City market since it started downtown.

"Blackberries are my business, and I do very well here," he said. "I sell out frequently."

The smell of apricot lingered in the Pony Express Pavilion as hundreds of residents picked through berries of all colors, nectarines, corn, squash, onions, fresh bread, garlic and sundry other products and produce.

"I'm a fruit and veggie nut, and everything is fresher here than in the grocery market, with a lot of variety," said Pat Hon of Washoe Valley.

Diana Hunt, of Dayton, said she "learned a long time ago to get a cart and do your stuff."

She wheeled out her veggie cart full of tomatoes and other fresh veggies from the market, saying sometimes the produce is more expensive, but more often than not the quality is worth the price.

"I love the atmosphere. There are all kinds of vendors and you get some awfully good veggies," she said.

Lowell and Sally Craig came to the market from Minden. Every week they come for "the best tomatoes you've ever tasted" and "strawberries that taste like candy."

"Look at all these booths," Lowell Craig said. "The vendors are nice and you get good customer service, which is a rarity these days. The produce here tastes like stuff you could grow in your own backyard. How can you resist a vine-ripened anything?"

Carson City sponsors the annual market, which the Craigs said creates an attraction for Carson City.

"Look, we're coming from Minden to shop and we're going to eat dinner," Sally Craig said. "This is a good place to have it. There are lots of vendors and we're spending money in Carson City, not Minden."

Carson City vendor David Bower stood at his Garlic Festival Store wearing a hat with a large, fake garlic clove on it. He draws people in with the hat, then draws them to his garlic products by tempting them with a piece of garlic bread.

"It's an eye-catcher," he said. "It's also the most humiliating thing I've ever done in my life. This is a nice, smaller market and we do very well here."

Fruit vendor Dave Youst, who works for the Fruit Factory of Sanger, Calif., looks at farmers markets this way:

"You can join the Army and see the world, or join the Fruit Factory and see every little town in the West," he said.

The Carson City Farmers Market is every Wednesday through Sept. 13 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Pony Express Pavilion, Mills Park.

For information on the Farmers Market call Shirley Adshade-Sponsler at 746-5024.


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