July - September 2009

A Visit to an Organic Farm in Silver Springs, Nevada - Owners Ray & Virginia Johnson



"Better Living Through Chemistry".......that has always been my creed and those in the Green Crowd I have more or less regarded as Enemies of the State ~ the neolithic hypocrites who seem to think we all would be better off living in trees and worshiping sticks... and it must be more pervasive than I thought be because we ended up electing one.  Either that or we elected a teleprompter - not sure what is in charge of the country anymore.

Organic Produce?

Walk into a grocery store and have a look at the 'organic' section one of these days.  What do you find?  Me, I find produce with bug holes, bug excrement (if I look close enough), bugs alive and dead (if I look close enough), produce a bit smaller than what's in the 'normal' aisle, produce in various degrees of wilt because of the extremely limited shelf life, and produce more expensive than the usual alternative.

Major Incentives for me to buy organic produce?  

None........until something called 'Free Trade' happened and we learned that one countries version of safety and quality doesn't necessarily translate to another's version of safety and quality.

So given my general opinion of the Greens, why would I even waste My Time on organic produce, much less write about it?

The answer to this in my case has to be approached tangentially for it to make sense.

My parents were children of the Great Depression (not this one - the other one) and the value of a dollar was drilled into my head at a very early age. For most of my life I have always been on the lookout for the better deal, the best way to stretch that dollar so as to put away as much as possible for retirement.  Discount shopping has always been a favorite of mine.

I happen to like dogs and feed them food that is economical and has enough vitamins etc. to be cost effective and more a benefit than a liability.

Then, one country in particular poisoned a number of brands of dog food which caused the deaths of many canines and this food was sold in one of my favorite stores, the BIG W.

Dog Food

Then, one country in particular poisoned infant formula, sickening many infants........even infants in their own country.

Baby Food

Then, one country in particular infested sheet rock with sulfur, rendering homes unlivable.


Then, another country in particular began exporting tomatoes, peppers and other produce infected with Salmonella, sickening numbers of US citizens and killing others (we discovered the term Organic Fertilizer means different things to different countries).


Then, my wife likes to collect ceramic chickens.  We go out on a ceramic chicken shopping tour and I find lots of chickens I like but my wife won't buy them if the sticker says 'Made in China'.  Why not?  Because who knows what is in the ceramics......for all she knows there could be spent fuel cells  - nuclear waste, comprising part of those ceramic chickens, thus giving them that 'special' luminescence.  

I couldn't find anything on Toxic Chinese Chickens, but I did find this which rather neatly makes the point:

......it is enough to make one ill.  Surely the there are some healthier alternatives out there,  and ones that don't belong to extremist environmental groups.  

Introducing  Custom Gardens CSA & On-Farm Greenmarket  located in Silver Springs, Nevada

Custom Gardens

Huh..... Haven't seen this place before.  There is not much to Silver Springs and the last thing in the land of coleche, sand and sagebrush one would expect to find is an organic farm.  

Guard Dog

Uh Oh.  This is one big dog.  

This is also one of the friendliest, biggest dogs I've seen in a while.  Loves people but is pure hell on coyotes.


The farm sports an American flag too,  a sight we need to see more of.  Looks like lots of tomatoes in the foreground.

And in Silver Springs?


This is quite amazing.  What are those structures in the back?

Hoop Houses

These structures are called Hoop Houses and they allow one to better control the heat, wind and humidity.  

The Hoop House on the right was the first one constructed.  Over the years three more were built, steadily improving in design.

Lets have a look inside.

Inside the Hoop House

Inside the Hoop House

Inside the Hoop House

Inside the Hoop House

You have to be familiar with Northern Nevada and Silver Springs in particular in order to fully appreciate what Ray and Virgina have accomplished.

And,  this farm is certified 100% organic.

It's hot in those Hoop Houses so let's have a look around outside.


Virginia giving a tour of the veggies.

Garlic and Onions

Having a look at garlic and onions.



A nice flower patch.  Need to get some tips from them on this.  I like those red Mexican Hats.


An old fashioned favorite of mine.




Lots of nice looking produce.  

So what do they do with it?

Wash House

Inside the Wash House

Produce is washed, weighed and packaged here.

Cold Storage

It is then refrigerated and stored.

The Weekly Box

And then if you signed up, you get a box of veggies once a week  plus the occasional watermelon.

What's in the box?  Lets have a look:

The Box

The Contents

The contents change as the season changes and this was from July.  

September sports tomatoes, potatoes, squash, ground cherries (delicious - never heard of then),  many varieties of peppers and other common and unusual goodies.

Absent the watermelon, it is about 15 pounds worth of 100% certified organic produce.

List of Goods

You get a list of produce,


Recipes relevant to what's in the box,


And a reminder to return the empty box plus other current info. Computer problems - who can't empathize with that?  

I liked the graphic too.

End of the Year

Dust Devil

Unfortunately at the end of the growing season a dust devil removed most of the plastic from the hoop house.  
This is not going to be easy to replace.  Dust Devils are Nevada's version of a miniature tornado.


A final celebration happens in late September.  


Complete with live entertainment.


And lots of Amaranth (the red stuff)



Over the past couple years we have made more of an effort in supporting local businesses.

I think this is one worth supporting.

If anything  go on out and get a free tour, meet a very nice couple and enjoy the sights of Silver Springs.  

Odds are you will also come away knowing a bit more than you did before about what can be produced in northern Nevada, and how to do it.