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Henderson farmers markets reward visitors willing to forage

Henderson farmers markets may not pose a best-of-the-West threat, but they are fine places where inspiration and key ingredients for summer recipes may be found. Whether you have plans to build a scrumptious salad or to grill peaches to top on vanilla ice cream, a local farmers market visit will help with fruit-and-veggie needs.

Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches and limes were on my shopping list. Other ingredients for my soon-to-be-fashioned fresh fruit tart would come from the grocery store and home. I visited three of five Henderson-area farmers markets — a Thursday affair on Water Street in downtown, a Friday morning market near the Henderson Pavilion and a Friday afternoon indoor market at Galleria at Sunset mall. I brought my own tote bag and cash, even though some vendors accept credit cards.

On a recent Thursday morning, I made my way to Water Street’s Events Plaza, where starting at 9 a.m. vendors begin selling produce as well as other food items. Focused on my fruit tart mission, I packed into my tote bag four peaches from Lodi, California, and a small box of blueberries from Salinas, California. The prices were reasonable and the quality good. The market had a small number of vendors early in the morning, perhaps because the temperature had already struck 91 degrees. C&D Honey Co. had jars of Pahrump honey for sale, offering help to allergy sufferers hoping to combat the effects of local pollens. Frankly Good Coffee was in the plaza selling cups of Joe.

The next day around 11 a.m., I was visiting 10 booths that made up the Friday farmers market in a parking lot near Henderson Pavilion and Paseo Verde Library. A dozen people were buying tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, cucumbers and peaches from the Highland Harvest Barn produce stand that had relocated from its downtown farmers market location the previous day. Other vendors sold roasted nuts, hummus, soaps and pet-related gifts. I also sampled China Ranch honey dates, and from that same booth I purchased a jar of Ruth & Heady’s apricot jam (named after the jam maker’s grandmothers) for my fruit tart’s glaze.

My other Friday stop was Galleria at Sunset mall. The idea of a farmers market inside a mall struck me as unorthodox but potentially ingenious, given the sizzle of Southern Nevada summer. After parking my car near the Dillard’s entrance, I grabbed my tote bag and meandered through the men’s clothing and cosmetics sections of the department store. After stepping out into the Galleria’s first-floor common area, there were a couple of promising sights: a circling kids’ passenger train and a crowd of about 40 people gathered around central tables piled high with squash, tomatoes, bunches of multi-colored radishes, potatoes and plums. Another produce vendor offered samples of raspberries, blackberries, cherries and strawberries; all were ripe, flavorful, sweet and soon purchased by me.

The mall market opens at 2 p.m. and runs to 7 p.m. In addition to fresh produce, the market offers locally baked goods, Pahrump honey, Las Vegas hummus, flavor-infused salad oils and vinegars from Northern California (ask and you shall receive a sample of hibiscus flower vinegar and lemon oil). Aromatherapy and CBD products were also for sale. Customers easily slipped into lengthy conversations with people passionate about sharing and selling their products. Visiting Henderson-area farmers markets was a fun diversion and a pleasant way to support local small businesses and, at least in some cases, the growers and harvesters of regional produce.

I left with the fresh fruit I needed for my summer recipe. The pursuit could have been much simpler. Nowadays, it’s easy to forgo more of our food-gatherer roles. We can click on grocery items pictured on our computer screens from home and then drive to designated parking spaces to await the items a store employee has picked out for us. That’s a wonderful option to have, but there are times when the summer bounty of fruits and veggies is worth celebrating with a trip to the farmers market. The Southern Nevada Health District lists information about all Las Vegas-area farmers markets at gethealthyclarkcounty.org/eat-better/farmers-markets.

Natalie Burt, a former news reporter at the Review-Journal for 11 years, spends as much of her free time as possible enjoying Southern Nevada’s outdoors. She’s now a teacher and has lived in Henderson for 18 years. Email: nvburt@gmail.com.

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