Meet Your Farmer Project continues with farm/restaurant partnerships

Meet Your Farmer Project continues with farm/restaurant partnerships

Todd Avanzino Farms

“With these amazing videos, we can help farmers market themselves effectively and continue to build the momentum in restaurants,” says Jolene Cook, project manager at Neon Agency in Reno. Cook is the former general manager and wellness buyer at the Great Basin Community Food Co-op in Reno.

Created by Jolene and Steve Cook, creative director at Neon Agency, the Meet Your Farmer program involves a series of videos that are shot by Reno photographer Asa Gilmore and feature farmers who grow specialty crops. The original program and videos began in 2015 with an in-store app accessible at the Great Basin co-op. The app was the first of its kind to launch in any American grocery store, and now the program has now evolved into a social media campaign to encourage the Reno community to share their own edible experiences at several participating restaurants with the #meetyourfarmernevada tag. Each farmer also will have his or her own hashtag.

The program is funded by the Nevada Specialty Crop Block Grant Program under the Nevada Department of Agriculture. The grant’s purpose is to raise awareness about specialty crops, which include produce (minus corn), honey, and flowers. Eggs and meat are not considered specialty crops, but several of the farmers still produce these items. A total of 25 farmers and ranchers were part of the original video series, and 10 farmers are working with local restaurants for the 2018 event.

The videos are available to view on the NDA’s YouTube channel and the Meet Your Farmer website. They include interviews and tours with Jacob’s Family Berry Farm, Nevada Fresh Pak, Avanzino Farms, and Hidden Valley Honey as well as other local producers.

maryalice sproutfarm 

Sprout Farm video from Meet Your Farmer

“This program is also to show that these are the farmers’ livelihoods, their passions, and they love it and produce this amazing food, and you get the pleasure of eating it,” Jolene says. “It’s kind of a miracle.”

Several of the farmer/restaurant partnerships also are matches made in heaven. The Pizza Collective at the West Street Market will be using basil from Lattin Farms in Fallon on its pies, Reno’s Liberty Food and Wine Exchange is serving pea shoots from New Harvest Farm in Reno, and pungent mint from River School Farm will be served at Thali at West Street Market.

Albert Sindlinger of Al Bees and Sierra Nevada Honey Company currently raises bees and honey in 14 areas around Pleasant Valley and Washoe Valley. Al Bees is a longtime partner of the Reno, Truckee, and Squaw Valley Coffeebar locations and will continue the partnership for the Meet Your Farmer program.

Als Bees aerial 

Al Bees in Reno

“Because of the variety of flowers and plants, the honey from each location has a totally different flavor and color,” says Charles Nash, ranch manager at Al Bees.

The Reno, Truckee, and Squaw Valley Coffeebar locations use Al Bees honey for several of their products, including the seasonal lavender lemonade, jasmine rose tea latte, house-made granola, and honey water for sweetening coffee and tea drinks. For the September Meet Your Farmer event, Coffeebar will be offering its honey-laden energy bites and lavender-honey drinks.

jasmine rose tea latte Coffeebar 

Jasmine rose tea latte from Coffeebar is made with honey from Al Bees

“Our goal is to put back into the community as much as we take out of it,” says Leah Chew, Coffeebar creative director. “Being able to work with as many local producers as possible just creates a business that is sustainable and creates a community that helps each other.”

Any specialty crop farmer or restaurant who would like to join the Meet Your Farmer program can contact Jolene Cook at



For details, visit

Nevada Department of Agriculture Meet Your Farmer video series

Meet Your Farmer September Farmer/Restaurant Event


Sept. 13, 2018

West Street Market

4 – 8 p.m.

Nevada Economic Development Conference highlights suburban neighborhood trend.

Courtesy of Nevada Economic Development Conference


Will community gardens supplant the clubhouse? Will fairway views fade into farmscapes, and the fast-rolling greens of the golf course become rows of kale, cabbage, and spinach?


In the late 1990s and early 2000s, new housing in Northern Nevada almost required that there be a golf course winding amid the homes.


But in recent years, many millennials, baby boomers, and retirees are seeking out neighborhoods that have more direct relationships to the land and to local food as urban landscapes turn into fresh-food deserts. An increasingly popular subdivision design called an agrihood is helping to fulfill this desire to connect more closely with community, nature, and our food supply.


The Fourth Annual Nevada Economic Development Conference set for Aug. 20-22, 2018 at the Atlantis Casino & Resort in Reno, and edible Reno-Tahoe magazine is a media sponsor for the event. This year’s conference will feature a presentation entitled Agrihoods 2.0 as part of its popular Agribusiness sessions. It will highlight the Corley Ranch in Douglas County as well as other agrihood developments that have sprung up around the United States.


Changes in the ’hood

Loosely defined by the Urban Land Institute as master-planned housing communities with working farms as their focus, many agrihoods offer ample green space, barns, outdoor kitchens, and farm-to-table restaurants.


Session speaker Jeff Birkby, who has managed sustainable agriculture and community development projects for nonprofit organizations and state and federal government agencies, says there is pent-up demand to develop food sources closer to our kitchen tables.


INSERT PHOTO: Birkbyphoto (*Can we put this photo small, to the left of the “Changes in the hood” first paragraph, as opposed to all by itself?)

CAPTION: Jeff Birkby


“We are beginning to see in-fill agrihoods that are turning blighted areas of cities, such as Detroit, into vibrant and desirable communities,” Birkby says. “This next phase of agrihood development looks to transform abandoned urban centers, using existing city property, instead of developing housing around pristine land outside of city limits.”


The Urban Land Institute estimates that, as of 2014, there were more than 200 agrihoods either developed or in the planning stages in the United States.


Agrihoods 2.0 session speaker Mark Neuffer, principal of Alta Consulting in San Jose, Calif., is developing Farmstead at Corley Ranch as one of those. Adjacent to what already is a working ranch, the proposed 250 homes will offer nearby amenities such as a community garden, greenhouse, and orchard.


INSERT PHOTO: mark-nueffer (Same placement as Birkby, to the left of the paragraph above)

CAPTION: Mark Nueffer


Neuffer, who has successfully developed numerous housing projects in the Sparks area, cites the Rancho Mission Viejo project in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., as a model for the Farmstead at Corley Ranch. There, residents have access to communal farms with orchards and workshop space, raised planters, in-ground crops, fruit trees, and community events featuring area farmers lending a hand in the communal gardens.


“I think this is a more meaningful housing product,” Neuffer says. “The golf course housing project doesn’t articulate what today’s home buyer is looking for.”


Plus, agrihoods offer developers a lower cost for amenities, Birkby says


“These costs, though significant, can be less than one-fifth of the costs of developing and maintaining a professionally designed golf course. And the consumer demand for housing in new agrihoods is tremendous,” he says.


Rancho Mission Viejo already is developing its second agrihood housing development, and agrihoods are popping up from Florida to Hawaii. In Davis, Calif., a 100-acre development called The Cannery is built around a working farm that will sell to local restaurants and grocers. The agrihood is built on the site of a former Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery — an excellent example of repurposing an industrial site, Birkby notes.


INSERT PHOTO: cannerydavis (size can be full, but not huge)

CAPTION: The Cannery in Davis is an operating agrihood


Agrihoods 2.0 also will feature Jack Jacobs, owner and manager of Jacobs Family Berry Farm. His recent Carson Valley agricultural activities have included 2018 Conservation Award for work to advance agriculture in Douglas County-Carson Valley.


INSERT PHOTO: Jack-Jacobs (*Note: Same placement and sizing as other head shots, please, next to the paragraph above)

CAPTION: Jack Jacobs


This trio will present the processes, challenges, and successes of the agrihood, as well as how the agrihood can benefit the entire community.


For details about this session and many other sessions on topics revealing the new Nevada economy, or to register, visit


Nevada Economic Development Conference

Tues., Aug. 21 and Wed., Aug. 22, 2018

Tracks include: Agribusiness, Economic Development, Manufacturing, Transportation/Infrastructure and Workforce Development.

The cost ($175 before July 6; $200 after July 6) includes opening sessions, lunch with keynote speakers, and exhibit hall reception. A one-day conference pass is $125 ($150 after July 6).


A pre-conference tour and workshop, Connecting Nevada to the Global Economy, on Aug. 20 will visit the SWITCH facility located at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. A separate registration fee of $75 will be charged for this portion of the conference ($100 after July 6), which includes lunch and transportation.

This event is recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a professional development event that counts toward the recertification of Certified Economic Developers.


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