After a year of meteoric growth, Hawthorne farmer’s market shut down for the season on Friday.
Cindy Nixon, market coordinator, said she invited the Art Jones Band, recently named Mineral County’s finest band by the readers of the Independent-News, to help cap off what she called a year in which the market doubled in size.
“It was received very well,” Nixon said. “It was fun. It was just a fun event.”
Nixon said she had been planning to bring the band to the market all summer. She also plans to invite the band back to the first and last markets next summer.
“Art was open to it, so we decided ‘Let’s make that last market special,’” Nixon said. “And so that’s what we did.”
Using the number of people served by Burke’s Barbeque, a catering service that sells food at the farmer’s market, to a gauge, Nixon estimated between 125 and 150 people attended the year’s final market.
“Our vendor from Yerington came and he had tons of produce,” Nixon said. “They had a freeze over there, so he was very anxious to get rid of it.”
Nixon also said the last fruits of the community garden on 6th Street in Hawthorne were sold at the event.
As usual, the main attraction was watermelons.
“It’s just a special blessing of summer,” Nixon said of the fruit.
Nixon also said peppers and cucumbers were popular items at the market.
“Everybody’s into the canning thing right now,” she said. “We had loads of tomatoes going out. There were a lot of items just perfect for canning right now.”
One of the keys to the market’s success, Nixon said, was its ability to accept vouchers from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, the federal food program that replaced food stamps.
Nixon said each of the vouchers is worth $2, and the market accepted between 800 and 1,000 of them in the course of the year.
The market’s success is shown by the number of opportunities people have to buy food. At the start of the season, the market was only open every other week. By the time it closed down for the year, Nixon said there was a vegetable stand on the off weeks that sold the products of the garden.
Nixon said she expects the farmer’s market will become a weekly event eventually.
“I’m sure it will just kind of evolve on its own,” Nixon said. “I’m sure it will expand.”
Nixon said she and her husband, Mark, had been considering starting farmer’s market for years before the idea finally took root last year.
“The opportunity didn’t present itself last year when the community started focusing on agriculture as a possible route for businesses,” Nixon said. “Out here in the middle of nowhere with the cost of fuel and everything, what’s wrong with gardening?”
When the community garden sprung up, the farmer’s market grew up alongside it as a way to get the nutritious, healthy, local food grown there on people’s tables, Nixon said.
But, the market serves a higher purpose than just bringing fresh food to Hawthorne residents, Nixon said.
“Hawthorne, Mineral County, has been bombarded with so much negative over the last few years,” Nixon said. “We’re proving that there is a positive occurring here. […] This is one of the positives in Hawthorne.”