Knowing Nevada: Agriculture boom, bust, and revitalization


"Local" food is finding a home in northern Nevada yet again.

Whether you're eating out or cooking at home, odds are something from Holley Family Farms in Dayton, Nevada have touched your dinner plate once or twice.

"You can't have the direct sales, the restaurants who are interested in your products, without having the people that are demanding that," says owner Rob Holley. "We were able to develop a strong local demand for our meat, and it's basically raised the way animals were raised for centuries."

Holley Family Farms is just one of many farms in northern Nevada taking advantage of the region having a newfound interest in "eating local."

"First off, local means it must taste good," says Liberty Food and Wine Exchange Owner Mark Estee. "Locally produced products have been around here for a long time, I think it is only recently in the last 5 years that people are really paying attention to them."

Estee has made a living off of cooking and selling food produced within northern Nevada, including meats and produce from Holley farms.

"The food we eat comes out and tastes a certain way to us and usually because of the way it is raised, what the animal eats," says Estee. "I think Holley's gets that, and I think that they are the standard-bearers of this region, have been for a long time."

"People were on their way to California for the Gold Rush so they came right through the Truckee River canyon," says Holly Walton-Buchanan, author of "Land of the Buckaroo: Historic Ranches of Western Nevada."

Walton-Buchanan says some stayed because of the climate, and once the Comstock was discovered, a food source was needed to accommodate for all the minors flooding into the region.

"It's pretty cold, you can't grow very much food up there, so they relied on the farmers down here in the Truckee Meadows and the Carson Valley," says Walton-Buchanan.

Once the mining industry trailed off, hay and cattle took over and products were moved thanks to the railroad system.

Holley Family Farms opened in 1970 when there was little interest in eating locally.

"There were very few local restaurants that catered to providing locally sourced food," says Holley.

Times are changing in 2016, however, and Holley has his fingerprints around northern Nevada throughout various restaurants and grocery stores.

"The general population is starting to pay more attention to that and ask for that," says Estee. "I don't think we could be situated in a better place than northern Nevada."

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