Farming is all in the family
Gary Romano is making history by holding the states first farmers market on an actual farm his. Ten years ago Romano decided to give up his government post in Truckee and put on farmers digs like generations before him.The 48-year-old Romano, who owns Sierra Valley Farms in Beckwourth with his wife, Kim, started the farmers market on his 65 acres on June 9 with six vendors and a cooking demonstration. He said he hopes to attract other farmers who need an outlet to sell their goods, as well as providing fresh, organic produce to passersby.Romano will host a mountain gardening session at noon today to teach participants what veggies grow well in the mountains, how to set up a compost bin, what soils to use and what perennials to plant in this climate. It makes a nice day-trip destination, Romano said, noting that he also has a country store on his land that sells fresh eggs, goat cheese, fresh produce and beef. We try to buy local as much as we can.Allen Joseph from Mehls Berry Farm in Watsonville sold his strawberries at Romanos first market last Friday.Its absolutely charming, Joseph said of the farm setting. I sold out two hours early.When Romano, the former parks and recreation superintendent for Truckee-Donner Parks & Recreation and the Tahoe City Public Utility District, isnt hosting other farmers, he totes his goods to other markets. We are well-known for our organic greens and spinach, said Romano, who became a full-time farmer in 1997 and sells his produce at the Tahoe City and Truckee markets. Romano is also an exclusive seller to Moodys Bistro in Truckee. He sells organic lettuce, salad mixes, radishes, beets, carrots, potatoes, native plants and markets his own horseradish. I love horseradish and his is just horseradish no preservative or anything. You cant find that product in an organic way anywhere else, said Paula Smith, a Truckee resident. Hes doing some amazing things for organic. I think their farm is great.Romanos horseradish is also the only organic horseradish sold in California, he said.Romano said he loves farming and that it was just a way of life for him as a child. His 80-year-old father, Louis Romano, has sold his home-grown flowers at the San Francisco flower market since he was 7 years old. Next year, the family will celebrate having been in the Sierra Valley for 100 years. Im third generation on both sides. It comes naturally, Romano said. I guess I was doomed from the start. I swore I would never go into farming after cutting flowers with my dad my whole life, but here I am.