In recent years there has been a movement to encourage sustainability and eco-consciousness by relying on foods that are locally produced. Locavores are people who choose to limit their food supply to what is grown and produced within a restricted radius; they are a growing community especially in areas with mild climates. Las Vegas will likely never be able to accommodate those committed to being locavores. However, farmer’s markets, home gardens, specialty grocers like Fresh & Easy and Glazier’s are making it easier for me and other Las Vegans to eat locally. It wasn’t until last fall that I learned about Gilcrease Orchard, a gem of a place tucked away in the north part of the valley.
Gilcrease Orchard’s history dates back to 1920, when Leonard and Elda Gilcrease established a ranch. Many years later, their sons, Ted and Bill took over the family business and turned the ranch in fruit and vegetable orchards. In 1996 Ted wanted to provide the community with an opportunity to learn about agriculture, as a result the Gilcrease Orchard Foundation was created.
Today Gilcrease Orchard is primarily known as a cash only “pick and pay” site. Although, picked produce is available early morning for a slightly higher cost. The orchard is open May through October, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 7am-noon. Admission is $3.00 per car or if you prefer to walk, walk-ins are free. The orchard spans over 50 acres, driving is recommended especially in summer months.
My first experience at the orchard was last year just before Halloween. I had heard they had a pumpkin patch. Growing up in the Midwest, I have fond memories of apple picking and visiting the pumpkin patch each autumn. I was thrilled that I had the opportunity to continue the tradition here in Las Vegas.
It was great fun to walk the groves and see giddy children choose their pumpkins with such delight. I enjoyed searching for watermelons and eggplant and later picking apples. The roads through the orchard lead you to the exit where you wait to weigh your goods and pay for your purchase. Large coolers filled with their famous Apple Cider are also at the checkout stand. At the very least pick up a ½ pint for a buck, but I recommend the half gallon sold for four bucks.
Fruits and veggies are seasonal, current crops available are apricots, yellow squash zucchini and a variety of potatoes. Pick your own produce is all sold for $1.00 per pound. Currently, the only exception is fingerling potatoes. Those are available for purchase at $2.00/lb. Armenian cucumber and yellow pear tomatoes are expected to be ready for harvest soon. In coming months you can expect to find figs, cantaloupe, butternut and spaghetti squash, pears and more varieties of tomatoes. You can sign up for a free newsletter on the Gilcrease Orchard’s website. By doing so, you’ll be notified of produce availability.
Las Vegas might not be able to support locavores, but we can support those that produce food locally. By doing so we might be surprised by what could be available to us in the future. Click here for another article about the Gilcrease Orchard written by Megan Edwards
Gilcrease Orchard is located at 7800 N. Tenaya Way Las Vegas, NV 89131