Fresh produce fans enjoy visits to northwest Las Vegas orchard

Fans of fresh produce pushed plastic wheelbarrows down rows and rows of leafy green plants Saturday morning, scavenging the earth for cucumbers, eggplant, squash and plucking peaches and pears from trees at Gilcrease Orchard.

Kristian and Katrina Regan played with their young daughters in a maze of hay bales nestled in the middle of the orchard. Soft clucking wafted from a coop of chickens nearby.

“We just miss home, which is Tennessee, so sometimes we come out here just to see some greenery and some trees and hay bales,“ said Kristian Regan, 30, patting the bale of hay he leaned against.

Kristian Regan, who is in the Air Force and is stationed at Creech Air Force Base, and his wife watched as their daughters, Allie, 4, and Savannah, 2, chased each other through the maze.

The Regans, who moved to Las Vegas in 2013, enjoy the northwest Las Vegas orchard most in the fall, when they can pick pumpkins and buy apple cider donuts.

“It’s an orchard in the middle of the desert,” Kristian Regan said of the 60-acre plot on the corner of North Tenaya Way and Grand Teton Drive. “It’s kind of like a getaway.”

Mark Ruben, who has helped run the nonprofit orchard for nine years, said it’s difficult to grow crops in the desert. But the hard work doesn’t bother him; he said he got into landscaping, and later farming, because he likes problem-solving and inventing.

Most recently, Ruben built a shade structure to protect tomatoes from the harsh sun.

“It did help, until the wind came and ripped them all off,“ he said. “I just keep trying to find ways to beat the system — to beat the weather.”

The orchard opens and closes 30 minutes early during the summer so that customers can avoid picking produce during the hottest times of day. The orchard’s regular hours – 7 a.m. to noon – will resume for the fall next Saturday.

Peaches will be available for harvest for about three more weeks, Ruben said. Fall crops — apples, pomegranates, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, collards, green beans and of course, pumpkins — will be ready for picking in the first week of October.

“This is kind of the in-between season when we’re starting to plant for the fall.”

Ruben anticipates another busy autumn.

Gilcrease Orchard sells about 100,000 pounds in pumpkins. While the orchard doesn’t record the number of pumpkins sold each year, Ruben estimates each one weighs 12-15 pounds. If the average pumpkin picked this fall weighs 13 pounds, the orchard will sell more than 7,500 pumpkins before the end of October.

In the meantime, the orchard sells black garlic bulbs – at 50 cents each, the bulbs are useful for making stir fries, soups, and sauces, and can be refrigerated for up to six months – and just finished bottling 7,500 gallons of apple cider, which is sold by the half-gallon or the pint.

While some wheelbarrows Saturday were heavy with plastic bags full of peaches, others held small children enjoying their last days of summer break.

“We came here so the boys can experience the orchard and pick their own fruit,” said 36-year-old Jill Ajayi, who visited the orchard with her husband, Sunday Ajayi, and their two sons.

Ayotunde and Olamide, 3 and 4, lay in a yellow plastic wheelbarrow in the shade of a peach tree, munching on popcorn, their curly hair tucked beneath bucket hats. Like many visitors Saturday, the boys were excited for the orchard’s fall offerings.

“We saw like a Halloween thing last time,” Ayotunde saidthrough a mouth full of popcorn.

“The best time I like to come here is Halloween because they have all these pumpkins,” Olamide interrupted. “You give it to your neighbor, carve a face in it, or what about making pumpkin pie with it.”

Contact Kimber Laux at Follow @lauxkimber on Twitter.

Wagonwheel Drive overpass reopens after ice closure
Overpass at Wagonwheel Drive reopens after ice on the onramp caused the ramp to be shut down, Feb. 22, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Keeping warm at the city of Las Vegas’ homeless courtyard
With help from the city of Las Vegas, a Salvation Army shelter stays open during the day Thursday and Friday, offering a safe place for the homeless to find respite from freezing temperatures and snow. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sloppy, Slushy Road Conditions Lead to Slow Traffic
Traffic slowed to a crawl on Jones are near Russell as conditions worsened Thursday. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Winter storm blankets west side of Las Vegas Valley
On Wednesday evening through early Thursday a winter storm dumped more than 7 1/2 inches of snow on some parts of the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas snow day for children
Las Vegas kids play in the snow that fell on Feb. 21, 2019. (Belinda Englman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow closes Red Rock Canyon, residents enjoy rare snowfall
The greater Las Vegas area was hit with snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2019. This video shows the areas surrounding Red Rock Canyon and the Summerlin community. Video by: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas kids attend school in the snow
Las Vegas children attend school during a rare snowstorm on Feb. 21, 2019. Staton Elementary School and other CCSD schools remained open. (Glenn Cook/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People enjoying the snow in Summerlin
Fox Hill Park in Summerlin was busy Thursday morning, Feb. 21, 2019, with people enjoying the rare snow that fell overnight. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NHP advises motorists to take caution during Las Vegas snowstorm
NHP advised motorists to take caution during the snowstorm in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Timelapse of snow at Red Rock Canyon
More than 7 inches of snow fell in the western areas of the Las Vegas Valley, including Red Rock Canyon, on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow falls at Fremont Street Experince in Las Vegas
Snow falls at the Fremont Street Experience early Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Las Vegas. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Summerlin
Snow in Summerlin on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (Anastasia Hendrix/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Snow At Red Rock Casino
Early morning snow in Summerlin on Thursday, feb. 21, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Northwest Las Vegas sees heavy snow fall
Drivers on the 215 Beltway in northwest Las Vegas faced heavy snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow at Red Rock Casino and Resort.
Snow continues to fall Thursday morning in Summerlin. Heaviest snow west of 215.
Snow soccer in Las Vegas -VIDEO
Players enjoy a game of soccer during a snowstorm in the Anthem area east of Las Vegas on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow falls Wednesday evening in Las Vegas
Heavy snow began falling Wednesday evening in the southwestern part of the Las Vegas valley. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Snow falls on the Las Vegas Strip
Snow falls outside the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip as the Golden Knights play the Boston Bruins. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow near Deer Springs and Buffalo
Snow near Deer Springs Way and Buffalo Drive in the northwest Las Vegas Valley on Feb. 20, 2019.(Cassie Soto/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in Las Vegas at Red Rock Casino Resort
A winter storm brings snow to Red Rock Casino Resort in Summerlin on Feb. 20, 2019. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February 20 snow in Centennial Hills (Part 2)
Snowstorm in the far northwest valley. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
February 20 snow in Centennial Hills
Snowstorm in the far northwest valley. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NDOT prepares for snow and ice from winter storm
The Nevada Department of Transportation gears up to keep roads open when snow and ice hit the Las Vegas valley.
Developer gets approval to build homes at Bonnie Springs
The Clark County Planning Commission has approved a plan to build 20 homes on the site of Bonnie Springs Ranch. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Working cats at St. John the Baptist Church
Parish councilmember John Koutsulis talks about the two cats St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church have adopted as part of a working cats program.
Lee Canyon snow makes skiers smile
Skiers and snow boarders took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday and the recent snowfall at Lee Canyon, outside of Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mount Charleston gets fresh blanket of snow
A winter storm drops nearly four inches of fresh snow on Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Mount Charleston outside Las Vegas. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Snow in the Las Vegas Valley
Snow accumulated in the Las Vegas Valley for the first time in more than a decade, with snow falling mostly in the western, northwestern and southern areas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review Journal) @bizutesfaye
Snow at US 95 and Lee Canyon Road
Passers-by pulled off Lee Canyon Road northwest of Las Vegas Monday to play in the fresh snow. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Road truck on an empty I-15
Snow and ice contributed to the closure of Interstate 15 near Primm. Jim Prather/Las Vegas Review-Journal
It is a rainy Valentine's Day in Las Vegas - Video
These scenes come from the Las Vegas Stadium LiveCam (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tony Sanchez wraps up the UNLV season
UNLV football coach Tony Sanchez wraps up the season. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing