Third Annual Local Food Week

Third Annual Local Food Week

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Local event connects food lovers with their farmers and more.

Eating locally produced food has vastly exponential, positive impacts.

One recent study conducted by the University of California Cooperative Extension cites that direct-market farms create about 32 local jobs for every $1 million in revenue earned, while about 10.5 jobs are created by large wholesale growers.

Freshness, the comfort of knowing where your food is coming from, and health benefits garnered from eating produce farmed locally are all additional icing on the proverbial (locally made, of course) cake.

For some local-food advocates such as Jolene Cook, founder of Local Food Week and Growing NV, educating Northern Nevada residents on how to connect with and support their area farmers is their life’s work.

So for the third year, she’s dedicated an entire week — August 15-21, 2021 — to events focused on making food grown locally even more approachable, plus educating people how to purchase, prepare, even grow, their own.

Additionally, she has formed an online community network entitled Growing NV that serves as a catalyst for connection, allowing people to “discover and enjoy the abundance of our local food system, to support local farmers who are stewards of the land, and to reinforce resiliency in our local economy.”

Local Food Week and Growing NV founder Jolene Cook with her family

Local Food Week Inspiration

“The number one thing that really inspires me is the possibility of community and meeting someone that can teach you something and share a cool story; someone who’s been there, done that, and can make your life better basically by living their own,” Cook says. “What can we achieve together that we couldn’t do apart? And since I’m totally food obsessed, I have a long bandwidth for people who are talking about anything that’s food related: growing it, cooking it, eating it. The opportunity to connect people who care about food locally means it’s closer to me and closer to my belly.”

Through Local Food Week, Cook is showcasing how communities can benefit from resilient food systems that support the earth, the economy, and the regional land stewards who provide fresh foods to the public.

While purchasing locally grown produce from a grocery store interjects a middleman into the purchasing process, often along with higher prices so the store can make a profit, shopping at the abundant area farmers’ markets offers a chance to buy directly from the source.

Through Local Food Week, Cook is incentivizing people to discover produce grown nearby.

Fun with Farmers

Kicking off Sun., Aug. 15, Local Food Week presence can be found at summertime farm stands and markets in Reno, Sparks, and Carson City.

Crystal Jones of The Radish Hotel Urban Farm & Homestead in Sparks

A giveaway of items grown in the area at the LFW stand will coincide with events and workshops focused on that day’s item. Workshops and events will demonstrate how to use the ingredients.

  • Sunday provides two opportunities to plug in: The first is at a volunteer Hoop House Raising event at the Demlu ‘uli Mongil (“food growing” in English) garden located Washoe Tribe’s Dresslerville Colony ranch in Gardnerville. The other is the Reno Food Systems Farm Stand on Mayberry Drive in Reno, where LFW will host an “herban” farm stand, giving away a bundle of fresh herbs to anyone who joins the Growing NV network.
  • Multiplier-Effect Monday, in collaboration with the Fallon Food Hub, will help teach eventgoers how buying local food can directly impact both the farmers that grow it and the community that buys it. As Cook explains, farmers receive five times the revenue from a consumer purchase directly from the farm as opposed to a purchase at the grocery store. If just 1 percent of the community spent $35 each week on locally produced farm fare, they could not only support a farmer, but they could also assist with food sovereignty for everyone.

Fallon Food Hub is a working model of this. The nonprofit delivers more than 200 weekly boxes each season, each of which costs an average of $35 per week. These CSA boxes are full of locally produced goods. Kelly Kelli, executive director of the Food Hub, is in turn able to provide four to five farmers with needed consistent income throughout the season to make farming a viable way to make a living.

Fallon Food Hub Executive Director Kelli Kelly talks local food economics with Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak

A vibrant video illustrating the multiplier effect on Mon., Aug. 16, will connect the dots from farm to fork. After watching the video, check out the list of local organizations that support and boost the local food system in Reno and surrounding areas, then pledge to do your part by shopping in your community this week and purchasing from local growers and makers. People helping Growing NV reach its goal of $5,000 in pledges will be entered to win local food-themed prizes.

Also on Monday, Reno’s cocktail guru Michael Moberly will host an industry-only Meet Your Farmer event, giving farmers plus local bar owners and restaurateurs an opportunity to meet and mingle.

  • On Tuesday, the first visitors to the LFW stand at the Sparks United Methodist Church Farmers’ Market can score a free pound of fresh tomatoes, while supplies last, plus chat with some Master Gardeners of Washoe County, who will be on hand to answer tomato-growing and home-gardening questions.
  • Wellness Wednesday will feature Cynthia Ware, also known as The Solitary Cook, teaching participants how to transform food scraps and kitchen staples into delectable, nutritious stock. She’ll also share her favorite recipes, tips, and techniques during this free virtual workshop.

Another chance for some on-the-farm learning will be conducted by herbalist Mary McCallum of Sierra Roots Wellness, who will demonstrate how to turn easy-to-grow (even in small containers) backyard herbs into medicines for common ailments.

  • Thursday marks the week’s pinnacle. At the Bonsai Blue Garden Market on August 19 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., market attendees will be able to pick a free basket of peppers at their preferred heat level.

Then, at the Riverside Farmers’ Market, the inaugural Local Food Faire merges a European food bazaar with a county fair right in Downtown Reno. Reno Garlic Fest also will be incorporated into the night with a special Garlic Garden featuring vendors who will have locally grown garlic for sale.

There, pie-baking, melon-eating, and garlic-eating contests can earn winners prizes. Tasting booths and demonstrations keep guests engaged. Workshops on food-related topics such as preserving and fermenting let food lovers leave enlightened. Villages for artists, kids, food trucks, craft beverages, and live music will keep the faire festive, while a “Best in Show” competition shows off the powerful produce prowess many local gardeners possess.

  • Friday finds Local Food Week hosting a Farm-to-Table Farmer Forum, where virtual attendees can attend for free and find out who feeds the community and what makes them passionate about what they do. A question-and-answer session will follow each farmer’s presentation. The in-person event is farmer focused, and GrowingNV will be buying each farmer a Liberty Food and Wine Exchange personal pizza and salad made with fresh ingredients from UNR’s Desert Farming Initiative, just a mile away.
The crew from Desert Farming Initiative in Reno
  • Saturday at the Urban Roots farm in Reno, you’ll find family-friendly farm projects, summertime beverages made with local goods, and a farm tour celebrating the final event day. Volunteers for the week also get their own “One in a Melon” party and presents.

And in Carson City that day from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., visitors to the Carson Farmers’ Market can each collect a single-stem flower while shopping, and supplies last. Plus, a pollinator pro from UNR’s Cooperative Extension will teach people how to grow their own pollinator pathway and tend to their home gardens. Local food week has partnered with Bee Friendly Reno and One Truckee River to provide a virtual presentation about the importance of pollinators in food production and share ideas to promote pollinators in one’s outdoor space. A video will be available to watch throughout the week as well.

Making an Impact

Local Food Week offers a timespan for residents to focus on and revel in local food systems. Cook and her valued partners have created an event that can direct focus toward sustainable growing practices and environmental stewardship.

The LFW team banded together to encourage eaters to make the extra effort to purchase produce more directly from the farmer and understand that when they support a community member’s livelihood, they’re literally supporting their own community.

Celebrate Local Food Week August 15-21 by visiting Growingnv.com and crafting a tasty and educational itinerary. Cheers to local food!

Natasha Bourlin, founder of Passport & Plume, loves nothing more than to convey inspirational stories and travel the globe. Reach out to her, and reach your readers. Dog lover.

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