Farmers Market Musings

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Eating Las Vegas hadn’t planned on doing a farmers market post…until his stroll around the Fresh52 Farmers Market at Tivoli Village today. After seeing the impressive crowds, talking to a few folks, and then looking at the Molto Mario Market’s Facebook page, he thought it might do the community and his loyal readers some good if he cleared a few things up. But first, a little history.

The Las Vegas Farmers Market has been around for over a decade. It is partially sponsored by the City of Las Vegas and runs every Tuesday and Wednesday and Saturday at three different locations. A couple of years ago, it came downtown to Fremont Street for a few Fridays (in the summer no less) and was so poorly attended it abandoned that venue. (The paucity of produce and lots and lots of karamel korn* no doubt hastened its demise.)

In the past few years, a couple of new markets sprang up. First, the Fresh52 Farmers Market — an exclusively outdoor market, run by Carrie and Ed Hogan, opened every Sunday on Eastern near the I-215, and recently began a Saturday market at the spanking new Tivoli Village (see pics above, taken today).

Two years ago, Mario Batali’s local operation Molto Vegas Farmers Market) joined forces with intuitive forager Kerry Clasby and started featuring her exquisite California produce, brought in every Thursday, at the Batali/Bastianich warehouse out on Dean Martin Drive near the Silverton Hotel.

Everything was clipping along smoothly until a few months ago, when Clark County shut down the Molto operation for failure to have a business license. Within days of the shut-down, yours truly, in his capacity as a lawyer-at-law, had met and talked with reps from County licensing, County Commissioners, Clasby and Molto Mario’s peeps, seeking to expedite the licensing procedure and keep the Thursday run of this wildly popular, foodie-friendly market going.

Alas, it was not to be. For whatever reason, Molto Mario seems to have lost interest in pursuing a licensing of its Dean Martin Drive facility for market-operation purposes, and the latest word is his organization and Clasby’s are looking for venues independent of one another, with downtown being of prime interest to both. (Clasby has brought her Bet On The Farm truck to town on a sporadic basis in the months since, in a variety of location, with mixed results.) As much as we love Kerry and her ├╝ber-exquisite produce, it’s a fair bet to say that, once her unofficial partnership with Batali ran into that licensing trouble, her marketing muscle suffered.

Before we go any further, one clarification is needed (because of some misconceptions we read on a comments thread on the Molto Mario Facebook page). Clark County — its commissioners and staff — could not have been more eager and cooperative in trying to resolve the licensing snafu. It was a simple matter of getting a proper business license in place, and they were eager to expedite it. Our educated guess is the Batali/Bastianich home office decided against formalizing a business arrangement for a market run out of their warehouse.

The sad fact is, without an indoor market, much of the super stuff Clasby was bringing in won’t survive during our four hot months. Indoor, air-conditioned space costs money, and now it seems we have three motivated markets (Fresh52, Molto Mario, and Bet On The Farm) in negotiations with various landlords, for just such an operation. ELV’s position as the aforementioned, hereinbefore and thereinafter lawyer-at-law prevents him from saying more. For the time being however, neither Batali nor Clasby has a reliable, tasty presence on our market scene, and may not for months to come. Which is like a drug dealer getting you hooked on the good stuff, then running out of product.

All of which leaves ELV with a number of questions:

Will avid lovers of luscious lettuce ever have a regularly scheduled market they can call their own, in a dependable location, 52 weeks a year?

Is one of these markets headed downtown?

Or will one or more of them find another home in another central location?

Will the two Kerrys/Carries ever join forces? Or decide upon the proper spelling of their name?

And finally, will ELV ever confront his demons, wreak vengeance upon his enemies and find the true love he so richly deserves?

Stay tuned.

* ELV’s Inviolate Farmers Market Maxim: The quality of any farmers market is inversely proportional to the amount of karamel korn (and trinkets and non-food items) being sold.

10 thoughts on “Farmers Market Musings

  1. Friend of a friend told me that once everything was in place at the B&B warehouse the property landlord and/or other tenants caused a stink about parking. I miss that market and hope whatever happens it works out soon.

  2. An outdoor market is setting up across from the Henderson Pavilion, which I read somewhere includes some of the Mario vendors. It looked small when I drove by, but I will check it out. I think it’s from 10-4 on Fridays.

  3. We’ve been to the Henderson Pavilion market. We’ve only found two regulars that we like–a young couple that produces great Vegan dishes and a baked goods stall. The vegetable offerings were no better that the local supermarkets (if that). There is also fruit, which I haven’t tried. Under ELV’s farmer’s market maxim (see above), with the above two exceptions this market fails the test.

  4. Glad you clarified the licensing issues re the Molto Vegas market. The county was getting an unjustified bad rap in the various FB threads, when in reality they were trying hard to get the issues solved.

    That amazing market sure got us all spoiled though, for the short time it was open.

  5. I thought the Tivoli Village market was sparse and parking there is a nightmare for handicapped.
    Last year we were going to the Wed market at Bruce Trent Park on Durango, and every third Sat out to Floyd Lamb Park.
    We doubled the space of our backyard garden and now only go to the markets for “fun”.
    Ellen

  6. The Henderson Farmers Market is by the Amphitheater. It has only 4 produce suppliers and only one is Organic. It is a great location so get there early because much of the produce is gone by noon.

  7. Don’t get me wrong, I love the farmer’s markets here but sometimes I feel like they’re too centered on artsy fartsy stuff than the actual produce. At all markets I should see more produce options than I do craft options. I want my fruits and veggies, not another tote bag dangit!

  8. John,

    Thanks for keeping us posted on this, as no one else is. I so miss this market. None of them around town have enough produce, as someone mentioned above. This was the only true market that I’ve found. I miss my mushroom guy!

    Please keep us posted.

  9. I think we all want more produce. It has to do with being outside. It is hard to find farms and “foodie” produce that can figure out a way to beat the heat and wind. fresh52 supports “ALL” handmade “art” as part of their farmers & artisan market. They will be opening an indoor location at the Tivoli Village market to invite the producers that can not be outside. It is their hope that the majority of the “foodie market” vendors will come and share their harvest. I have also heard that 3 other indoor locations are in the works to give the public more options Lets hope there is enough veggies and time to go around! I am sure that all will be happy in the end.

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