Growing up on the east coast Kerry Clasby was no stranger to farm stands and farmers’ markets. They are literally everywhere. In California she found them as well, but not in Las Vegas. With a background in education, sales & marketing and business, she did the only sensible thing. She followed her intuition and started one here. And boy has it grown! She talked with family farmers, educated herself through hands-on time at the farms, and through reading and talking with clients. She is a wealth of information on produce, the health benefits of nearly everything she sells, and what is in season at any time of the year. Kerry forages through the farms’ offerings to bring us the best and she follows her instinct on what to choose. Kerry is a fascinating human and an excellent raconteur. If you get the chance to chat with her – good luck getting her to sit still for very long – ask her about rose scented geranium and Michael Mina. Or how Tom Colicchio called her his vegetable girl on national TV. And she always wants to know your Zodiac sign.
In 2007 Kerry, with the help and urging of Mario Batali, started to bring farm fresh produce to the Vegas Valley, running the market out of Batali’s warehouse on Dean Martin. It started out as a way for the Strip chefs to get the quality and variety they had been lacking previously. Heavy weights like Batali, Michael Mina, Joel Robuchon and the Blau Group all began shopping at the market and the local community jumped on the bandwagon and began shopping too. MTO, Grass Roots, VegeNation, Pizza Rock and Carson Kitchen, all in the downtown area, get their produce from the market now as well. Recently Southern Wine & Spirits has gotten in on the action, sourcing ingredients for their in house development kitchen from the market. With ever expanding cocktail programs in all the casinos and many bars, mixologists are on the hunt for new and interesting ingredients to showcase not only great spirits, but the talent of the mixologists as well. The market is an obvious fit. Fantastic fresh herbs and fruits, some used to make shrubs, are in demand as well as less common citrus fruits to round out their ingredient lists. Just like our culinary community, our beverage community is creating sensational seasonal menus of cocktails that highlight produce and herbs at their peak.
Every bit of produce you see at the market is organic. No commercial farming practices are used in the creation of the beautiful produce. Because we don’t have a vast array of farms here in Nevada, most of the produce at the market comes from California, however there is a whole section devoted strictly to Nevada farmers. On any given week, you can go in and find up to 450 different items to choose from. Several varieties of peaches, plums, potatoes and melons were on display in addition to morel mushrooms and of course the ever popular heirloom tomatoes. In choosing the farmers she deals with, Kerry visits EVERY farm. She investigates their growing practices, their past production and walks their fields. She knows these farmers, their families and what’s going on in their lives. It makes a difference. Any salesperson worth their salt will tell you a personal relationship with the client makes all the difference in the world. That is the case with Kerry as well. Knowing what is going on in the lives of her producers is important to her and it shows. She can tell you the provenance of every single item on display; where it was grown, how it was grown and when it was picked.
It is more than just a farmers market with fruits and veggies. Need gifts? You can find them at the market too. Handmade hardwood cutting boards, flavored oils and vinegars and so much more can be found there. There are food, home, personal care, jewelry and decorative items. May I suggest starting your holiday shopping NOW! You can also see live cooking demos by local chefs and test ride an e-bike (think electric moped for the hip cyclist commuter).
Does it cost more? Yes. But as the old adage goes, “You get what you pay for”. When you bite into a slice of tomato from the market, it tastes the way a tomato SHOULD taste! The melons and peaches are sweet and juicy. The reasons for this are the produce is allowed to ripen naturally, they are picked at the height of flavor and are at the market in 24 hours. None of that is true when you shop elsewhere. If you want fresher, you’ll have to grow it yourself. When asked why she does this, Kerry responded, “It’s the right thing to do”. I asked her if she meant right for the community, the earth, or our bodies. “All of it!” was her response.
After a few location changes, the markets have found two stable locations. You can find weekly markets at both the former bus station at Downtown 3rd street on Fridays and also at the Downtown Summerlin mall on Saturdays. Both locations run 9 am – 2 pm weekly. A quick note: bring cash. The market is cash only and the local craftsmen and food purveyors (Jamaican cuisine, fantastic granola, micro-roasted coffee, for example) on site appreciate cash as well. Go to www.intuitiveforager.com for more details and to contact Kerry about purchasing the best produce for your business.