Carrie Hogan launched her farmers markets nine years ago, after seeing the movie “Food Inc.” She says the documentary film changed her perspective on the food industry. “The movie ended with the words ‘Do Something in your Community,’ and so I did,” she says. “Visiting farmers markets has always been a hobby of mine, so I thought, ‘I should just start my own.’ ” With Hogan’s professional acumen as an event planner, Fresh52 Farmers’ & Artisan Markets have thrived in Southern Nevada, including festivals at Tivoli Village that attracted 150,000 visitors, she said.
Tell us your background.
I’m originally from Mentor, Ohio, but moved to Las Vegas in 1998 and worked as an event planner. I worked as a wedding planner and in the beauty industry for 15 years. I still plan events for friends and through referrals, but most of my attention is focused on being a mother of a 4-year-old and 6-year-old, and managing my two farmers markets.
How has the market evolved over the years?
I started Fresh52 with only six vendors, in May 2010 — D&D Farms, Aromatherapy Garden, Miguel’s Salsa, Sasa Sweets, Bistro Blends and Sin City Delights. At the end of that year, I had more than 70 approved vendors participating, the majority being crafts and food makers. One year later, I wanted to expand, so I looked into putting my market into Tivoli Village and we were there for seven years. During that time, I decided to expand into community neighborhoods.
Fresh52 Farmers’ & Artisan Market
• Address: 9480 S. Eastern Ave, Las Vegas; 2000 Via Firenze, Henderson
• Phone: 702-900-2552
• Email: [email protected]
• Website: fresh52.com
• Hours of operation: 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays on Eastern; 9 a.m.-1 p.m. the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at Inspirada
• Owned/operated by: Carrie Hogan
• In business since: 2010
What is your mission?
My mission is to show the Las Vegas and Henderson communities that transparency and quality at farmers markets is key. You know what you are getting at Fresh52. I am a manager on a mission of conscious consumption for you and your family. Las Vegas isn’t always top of mind when it comes to farmers markets, so I want to make it aware that we are here. I want to encourage the community to visit us on a weekly basis, so we can grow and attract more quality farms.
How does one become a vendor at the market?
It’s an easy step-by-step process through the Fresh52 vendor page at fresh52.com. I review every food maker’s ingredient list and certifications. I tour every farm and review their Department of Agriculture certificates with what they are growing and bringing to market. I create personal relationships with the farm owners. We review pest management and organic certifications. Everything must be made and sourced locally. I review all legal documents such as business license and liability insurance, meet with the business and visit their commissary to see how they make their product. I also ask for samples of their product.
Depending on how many vendors apply, we will have a waitlist. Last year, more than 150 vendors applied and about half of them participated at different times throughout the year.
What advice can you offer first-time shoppers?
Bring the whole family. While the adult shops, kids can enjoy the free crafts area or dance away to live music. Kids also learn the importance of buying locally and supporting the community. And it gets them eating produce they would not normally eat.
Walk the entire market before purchasing, talk to the farmers and ask specific questions, and feel free to ask for pictures or brochures of the farm. Creating relationships is part of the pleasure of shopping at farmers markets and developing an appreciation of fresh, local foods at the height of their natural season.
Customers should also bring cash-small bills, and reusable bags to reduce waste.
What should shoppers look for when picking fresh fruit and vegetables?
• Peaches, apricots and nectarines ripen after picking. Buy them at various stages of ripeness so you don’t have to quickly use all of them.
• Strawberries do not ripen after harvest; you want them completely red all the way around.
• Okra should be no longer than 5 inches to taste the best.
• Store tomatoes end up. Tomatoes ripen after picking. Do not store them in the refrigerator, as they will lose their flavor.
• Smell your cantaloupe at the stem. It should smell like melon.
• Taste, taste, taste, if you are able. If not, smell it. Ripe produce smells faintly and sometimes overwhelmingly of how it should taste. Not too firm, not too soft.
A lot of people are used to the perfect-looking waxy produce at the grocery store, no matter what the season is. At the farmers market, you’ll get fruit and vegetables that are in season and at their peak performance, nothing out of season. You’ll see produce with some scarring and bruises, but they are still just as flavorful and tasty. These marks could show sugar spots to measure sweetness.
What is your management style?
I adjust my style to meet the needs of the people I am managing. The interests of the vendors always comes first. We are business partners. I assist them however I can, whether it’s helping them set up their tent or giving them business advice and merchandising pointers on how to sell more effectively. I am a coach and a mentor. Fresh52 is their platform and I’m there supporting 40 business partners at a time.
Are there plans to add locations across the valley?
I love having my markets in the Henderson area, but I want to expand to more neighborhoods. I’ve been looked around and have a location in mind, but nothing confirmed just yet.
It’s also a personal goal of mine to have an indoor farmers market. Las Vegas has beautiful spring and fall seasons, but harsh summers and winters, and it can affect the traffic.
What challenges or obstacles do you face as the market continues to grow?
I run into vendors who want to sell products with artificial ingredients or they do not make what they sell. I have a very strict guideline that vendors need to abide by and if they don’t meet the criteria, then I won’t let them in the market.
Another obstacle is the lack of food makers, craft foods and farmers. We have to create a balance for a successful sustainable market. We want to have more of the creative food makers who care about what they are making and feeding to their community. When there is passion, the crowd will always follow.
Lastly, set up, breakdown, weather, and health department July permit renewals really affect us. It is in the middle of summer, and new businesses sign up to get their yearly health permit in July.
What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?
Our local community loves to support one another, so it’s a warm feeling when I see families come to the market on their weekend mornings. I’m often conversing with families about food, educating and helping children taste test, working with vendors on improving their sales and offerings, and watching that returning weekly customer on their chosen diet shrink in size. Tears of joy fill my face.