Six Northern Nevada women farmers and entrepreneurs selected for new accelerator program

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Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 11:33 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Gov. Sisolak, The Nevada Department of Agriculture and the National Association of State Department of Agriculture Foundation recently announced the selection of 10 Nevada women for the Farm2Food Accelerator program.

This workforce development program is designed to help female farmers and entrepreneurs with food or beverage products and expanding into new markets.

Six of those ladies are in Northern Nevada, including Crystal Leon, co-owner of The Radish Hotel.

For Leon, gardening started at a young age with her grandmother and turned into a form of expression.

“It was sort of a constant love language for me. It was the one thing that i always went back to no matter what I did,” she adds.

Over the years, she has used urban gardening and education as ways to combat food insecurity.

“The idea that people would be without access to fresh foods because they can’t make it to a place to buy it... I just want to be part of a group that absolves that problem,” said Leon.

Last year, she and her significant other started selling boxes with produce from her urban farm in Sparks.

According to Leon, the boxes became popular among seniors who were looking to social distance during COVID.

The Radish Hotel Produce Box
The Radish Hotel Produce Box(KOLO)

“It removed the need to have to go out,” said Leon. “We deliver for a small fee and sometimes I wouldn’t even see them because we also offered curbside.”

Now that she has been selected for the Farm2Food Accelerator program, Leon is hoping to reach more people with her homemade granola, which can be found in her produce boxes and surrounding farmers markets.

The Farm2Food Accelerator program focuses on supporting women farmers who grow specialty crops for a value-added food or beverage product or those who source specialty crop ingredients in the products they make.

The USDA definition of specialty crops includes fruits, vegetables, honey, tree nuts, dried fruits, culinary herbs and spices. A value-added product is defined as a product that has changed in its physical state or form, such as milling wheat for flour or making strawberries into jam.

“We’re seeing an increased number of women farmers in Nevada and across the nation,” said Amber Smyer, Agricultural Literacy Coordinator at NDA. “However, they still tend to be smaller farms and receive less annual sales.”

Participants will join women from Oregon and Washington in a free 15-week online program, where they’ll learn about food safety, product development and marketing.

“Agriculture is a very important contributor to the state’s economy and as we strengthen our local food systems, we’re able to retain more of those dollars within those communities,” said Smyer.

Leon’s goal is to one day have her granola in schools.

For a full list of produce The Radish Hotel has available, follow their Facebook, Instagram and also Craiglist.

Other applicants accepted in the program include:

• Cortney Bloomer, Rural Health & Nutrition Initiative, Dayton, Nev.

• Stacy Fisk, Fisk Farm Herbs, Fallon, Nev.

• Teri & Megan Harasha, Jazi’s Greens, Carson City, Nev.

• Lyndsey T. Langsdale, Reno Food Systems, Reno, Nev.

• Leslie Lotspeich, Lotspeich Family Farm, Deeth, Nev.

• Eva Sara Luna, Desert Moon Farms, LLC, N. Las Vegas, Nev.

• Sara Thomas, NO BS Farm, Fernley, Nev.

• Evelynn Thompson, Zoot Poultry Company, Spring Creek, Nev.

• Betsy L. Whipple, River Ranch Vineyard, Hiko, Nev.

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