Certifiably delicious | NevadaAppeal.com

Certifiably delicious

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Ray Johnson, owner of Custom Gardens Farm in Silver Springs, uncovers organic spinach at Custom Gardens Farm on Sunday, Oct. 8. The Johnson's grow only organic produce and accept Nevada's Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons.
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If you don’t like your vegetables with a dash of chemicals, then the place to get them is from one of the area’s certified organic farms.

One of those farms, Custom Gardens in Silver Springs, hosts a farmers market each Sunday, and this week will also feature produce from three other area organic farms.

The event will feature only the vegetables, no crafts, children’s activities or music as some other farmers markets do.

“This is for serious vegetable shoppers,” said Virginia Johnson, co-owner of Custom Gardens, with her husband, Ray.

The market, called the Lyon County Certified Organic Farmers Harvest & Fun-Day, will begin at 9:30 a.m. and go to 2 p.m. at Custom Gardens, 3701 Elm St. in Silver Springs.

Three other certified organic farms will participate in this market: Churchill Butte Organics of Stagecoach; Home Grown Nevada of Wellington; and Slusser Farms of the Fernley and Fallon areas.

Certified organic farms are inspected annually by the state Department of Agriculture, Johnson said.

“We have to go through annual inspections, we have to give them a farm plan,” she said. “Tell how much we’re going to do and what we are going to use to grow our crops.”

The state restricts what Johnson calls inputs, or any substance used to aid in their farming, including pesticides, compost and fertilizer.

“We have some natural pesticides,” Johnson said, “that make the insect dry up, rather than poisoning it.”

She said if a person is wary of chemicals or toxic substances on food, organic farms are the safer bet.

“I don’t know that (organic food’s) any better, but for people who are trying to avoid chemicals, we know we don’t have any,” she said. “Because someone is making sure we’re complying with the rules.”

The farm also sells safe spinach. “We’re on city water, which is standard drinking water,” she said. “And the deer don’t go through here.”

The Johnsons cut and bundle the spinach, but don’t bag it, so there’s no fear of contamination in a processing plant.

At the market, Custom Gardens offers hardy fall, winter and spring vegetables, salad greens, stir-fry greens and roots such as beets, radishes and sweet white oriental turnips.

Custom Gardens also will sell strawberries, leeks, garlic and summer squash and winter squash and pumpkins at their farmers market.

“We’re still harvesting,” she said. “Things haven’t frozen out here, so things like watermelons are still ripening.”

She’s unsure how long the regular Sunday markets will go on.

“We’re contemplating whether or not to keep the market going after the 15th,” she said. “With the hardy winter greens, we might stay open into November.” The markets begin in July. The Johnsons have been holding farmers markets for about four years.

The Johnsons still take telephone orders through the winter, and work with chefs to anticipate and fill requests for off-season produce.

Also, Custom Gardens belongs to a community supported agriculture subscription program, where buyers can sign up and make smaller payments all year, then when the season starts they can begin getting their produce.

Sunday will also be the last day that seniors can redeem their Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons for the 2006 season.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at kwoodmansee@nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.