Vegas Growers Bring ‘Live’ Food to Market
Carrie Hogan had an early introduction into sustainable farming while growing up in Ohio. Her grandmother had a good-sized garden and Hogan and her brother would willingly lend a hand picking berries and rototilling the fertile ground.
Seventeen years ago, Hogan became an event planner and moved to Las Vegas where business boomed in the wedding industry. Five years ago, Hogan watched the documentary film, Food Inc., with tears streaming down her face. When she was approached to start a craft market at a local plaza Hogan adhered to the call of the Food Inc. film producers and said, “No. Let’s start a farmer’s market. The Las Vegas community really needs this.”
Today Fresh52 farmer’s market hosts a number of sustainable food vendors in two weekend locations: Tivoli Village in Summerlin on Saturdays, and Sanstone Plaza in Henderson on Sundays. Aside from organic produce from local and certain California farmers, Fresh52 is also a platform for independent local businesses, according to Hogan.
“We allow any vendor that sells handmade products be it jewelry, aprons, buttons or wreaths. We look for modern independent designers not country or traditional. We want crafters who are looking to have a business not just a hobby. “
While Hogan still maintains her event planning business, she certainly doesn’t look upon Fresh52 Farmer’s market as a hobby. “I go to every farm that is at our market and do an inspection and see how they do pest management. A lot of people don’t know there is a difference between certified organic products and sustainable products. Sustainable means no pesticides, no sprays, no chemicals. In order to get ‘certified organic’ farmers have to pay the government a lot of money. A percentage of ‘certified’ growers are actually allowed to use pest control.”
Getting the market off the ground wasn’t exactly a stroll in the garden for the enterprising planner. Hogan’s biggest obstacle she says was getting through all the licensing. “It scared me having to go in front of a board. They also notify the public who can come and fight. That had me a little bit scared. I started with eight vendors that I spread all over a parking lot to make it look we were busy. That was a challenge—getting the vendors to get the people and vice versus. Soon enough I just made it work.”
Along with funding from herself and her husband, Hogan accredits Roland Sanstone with helping launch Fresh52. “He backed me where my first market started at Sanstone Plaza. He split licensing costs with me for the first year. He was a tremendous help with this. He led the way. I had no idea how to do a weekly event,” said Hogan. “We have musical entrainment weekly at the market. There are a lot of musicians that need work. For our Kids Art Park I pay art teachers who are not working to entertain the kids at the booths three times a week.”
Fresh52 is open year round at both locations except for Christmas and New Year’s. “California producers are the anchors for our market,” says Hogan. “If we didn’t have them we wouldn’t have the variety we have and people might get bored. A lot of local people grow and sell the same thing and their gardens are small. They are selling to the chefs, too, so they don’t have much left when they come to the market. We definitely have more produce in spring and summer. You can get a lot of squashes here in the fall.”
Hogan is always looking for new locations. “We have to support the small farmer vs the industrial food system,” she says. “That is what is going to change our food system. The whole idea behind a farmers market is we are a platform for the farmers to get contracts with chefs and hopefully get their own brick and mortar. We’ve already had several vendors do that.”
An avid proponent of recycling as well, Hogan urges people to be conscious of the environment. But she also believes good habits start within. “You have got to take care of you. That’s so important. You have to be able to live long enough to do something about our ecosystem. If I had to choose I would definitely choose my health over recycling. But we need to do both.”
Thanks to the efforts of Carrie Hogan and the dedication of numerous sustainable farmers in the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding areas it’s become much easier for those of us in the desert to make good and healthy lifestyle choices. – Christine McKellar
For more information, locations and list of vendors and events at Fresh52 please visit: http://www.fresh52.com/