LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Surging prices of basic grocery items are leading Las Vegas consumers to shop at local farmers markets.
“If you don’t bake it, grow it, sow it, then you can’t be in the farmers market,” said Kimberly Bey, a vendor with Soul D’licious Seasonings.
Bey is a customer and a vendor for the local seasoning company. She sells containers of special herbs and spices at Wednesday’s Bruce Trent Park on Rampart Boulevard. Bey says shopping for fresh, organic food is the best way to optimum health, and farmers markets are the best place for organic food.
Down the pathway at the farmers market, Matthew Nelson, owner of Black Market Veggies, says farmers markets are the best place to find customers.
“It’s a gold rush. Every time I come here, I sell out,” Nelson said. “The community has shown a lot of love right now and I’m really appreciative.”
Nelson sells sweet peas, cilantro and other microgreens. When the pandemic hit, he says he lost several restaurant clients, but now business is budding.
Many local farmers count on support from the community. The pandemic impacted farms across Southern Nevada.
Serving the Las Vegas valley since the 1960s, the Las Vegas Farm and Barn Buddies Rescue is preparing for its weekend farmers market.
“We try really hard not to raise our prices,” said Sharon Linsenbardt, owner of the farm. “Everything is natural and fresh. Our eggs, our honey, our fruit. We bake a lot of bread.”
Right now she’s counting on sales from her weekend farmers market. The pandemic halted her business because students weren’t allowed to go to the farm on field trips, betrothed couples weren’t allowed to get married at the White Peacock Chapel, a wedding venue gaining popularity at the farm, and guests weren’t allowed to gather.
Coming out of the pandemic isn’t the only challenge Southern Nevada farmers face. The region is currently suffering a drought and sweltering in excessive heat.
“You gotta be real careful with the drought and with the heat to make sure your water is always, always wisely used,” Linsenbardt said.
The Las Vegas Farm has its own wells, but it takes a lot of power to pull the water out of the well. Linsenbardt says they need the water for the animals, but also for the trees to provide shade for the animals. She says water is just one of the many things on her list of needs including more funding to operate the farm. So far she hasn’t received any federal financial assistance, and she says the farm needs volunteers. Linsenbardt says fresh, natural eggs are her top sellers, insisting they’re cheaper than the eggs in the stores.
At grocery stores nationwide, the price of eggs, meat and milk are surging to the highest level they’ve been in 13 years. Beef and pork are up 3% since May. Oranges, lemons and grapefruit increased nearly 5%. And the USDA projects these prices to continue rising.
Linsenbardt is trying to prevent the Farm from raising prices on its produce to cover the cost of operations, but she doesn’t know how long she can keep prices low.
Shopping locally for groceries not only generates revenue for the region, but it also creates jobs according to the Farmers Market Coalition.