Blue Lizard Farm, Project Hoop House
Blue Lizard Farm, Project Hoop House, SAVE THE FARM
Hi! We are Rodney & Christine Mehring, and we own Blue Lizard Farm in Lincoln Co. NV, 2 1/2 hours north of Las Vegas, NV. We grow a wide variety of produce throughout the year, with some varieties year round. We sell produce to several Chefs on the Strip and Downtown Vegas, and what we love most are the farmer’s markets. There’s nothing like getting to meet the people who will enjoy the fruits of our labors.
Our Goal $67000
A new Government program Rodney helped develop, has been introduced to expand micro farms!
It allows micro farms to purchase up to $50000 each year of equipment that will help the farm conserve water, which translates to 5 Hoop Houses a year, and then reimburses us for a large percentage of our expense. So once we get the first 5 Hoop Houses, we will be able to purchase 5 more next year, and the year after that, and the year after that! Simply put, more hoop houses means more produce in the truck.
To support the new hoop houses, we need to upgrade our well and add irrigation lines, $6000
Perks, Video, Marketing and fees $11000
Your investment in our Indiegogo campaign will allow us to continue to grow our business each year and to provide an ever growing supply of fresh organic produce to the restaurants and people in the Las Vegas Community.
Our Story ( Our Mission, Our Dream)
Blue Lizard Farm is our home. Ten years ago we owned an Africanized Bee Removal company in Las Vegas. When it became obvious that Rodney’s health was suffering from the continuous pesticide exposure we knew it was time to leave the city and find a simpler, healthier life for ourselves and our children. Rodney has kept bees since his early twenties, and we thought at first that we would return to full-time beekeeping, as we had done in Southern Arizona. However, his continuing work as the beekeeper for UNLV’s biology department kept us within weekly commuting distance, which meant staying in the Great Basin Desert, the stark beauty of which lacks the rich biodiversity of the Sonoran Desert we’d known before. Not an ideal beekeeping area. Still, we were drawn to Lincoln county because of its beauty, the cooler weather, and the very rural atmosphere. We were able to purchase ten acres of utterly unimproved sagebrush desert and we set to work.
Everything you see on the farm today was put there by our own hands. We brought in the electric, put in the well, installed the plumbing and septic, built the buildings, and developed the soil. Our native soil is nearly sterile and low in organic matter, something uncomfortably close to gardening the moon. It took years of trial and error before we could feed ourselves. Without the hoop houses it would be difficult just to do that. Our local NRCS (Natural Resource Conservation Service, a branch of the USDA) agent was walking our place a year or so ago and he said “You know, if you’d asked me before you did this if it could have been done here, on this ground, I’d have told you you were nuts.”
When we began working the bugs out of the system, Rodney started taking samples of our produce to chefs in Las Vegas, particularly the chefs who work for Mario Batali at his restaurants in the Venetian and the Palazzo. Their commitment to supporting and encouraging our dreams has gone above and beyond. Many chefs will say they support local and seasonal, but don’t really understand what that entails. The chefs of the Batali Group are the real deal.
The period of test marketing was promising enough that three years ago we bit the bullet and took a loan to expand and develop Blue Lizard Farm. We added 12 steel frame 20×96 hoop houses and built a cleaning and packaging facility that is a fully state inspected commercial kitchen. Dealing primarily with leafy greens, we are aware of the potential risks and wanted to be able to ensure our customers, both wholesale and retail, a safe, wholesome, properly handled product that they could serve with confidence. We bought a refrigerated box truck to bring the fruit of our labors to the city. That loan required us to put up every thing we own as collateral.
Three years later we find that the cost of transportation is eating up every penny of profit. Our lender has been patient as we try to find a solution, but we must show that it is possible to increase our production enough to be viable by next spring. To be viable we have grow more vegetables. We have the demand. Every week we have orders we can’t fill because there just isn’t enough to go around. Every additional pound of spinach, or kale, or beets, or tomatoes we can add to the truck spreads the cost of the trip and increases the profit margin. Hoop houses are the key to our operation. They help us to take the edge off of our four main environmental hurdles: cold winters, hot summers, relentless winds, and wildlife. With them we can grow nearly year round, without them we are limited to our very short, intense, high desert summer.
The good news is that the NRCS is offering a new cost-share program for hoop houses which will, because of the amount of water we conserve using them, reimburse us for nearly the entire cost of this expansion. (This is the same program that encourages alfalfa farmers to convert their irrigation to those enormous circular pivots.)
So, why are we here asking you for help? Because we have to front the money ourselves, and we’re tapped out, barely getting by, with nothing left to borrow against. However, it does offer you a unique opportunity to GROW your donation, because what we intend to do is fund this expansion of five new hoop houses, receive the reimbursement, then turn around and do the same thing next year, and the next, and the next until our farm is humming along like a stable, well-oiled machine, supporting itself and providing employment in our tiny community where the un/under-employment rate is near 20%. Your donation will roll forward for years to come, ensuring the ability to Blue Lizard Farm to continue to grow in health and for health.
Other Ways You Can Help
Some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help:
- Ask folks to get the word out and make some noise about our campaign.
- If you are the local Area and want to volunteer, we have several local farms that need help.
- Send us an Email with how you could help and we will put you in touch with a Farm in need.
- When we get our new Hoop House we will need help putting them up.
We are in the beginning of an exciting new Food Movement. Join the “Know your Local Farmer” Movement. Lets Start with Micro Farms and keep the Local Food Movement Going. Live Love Lizard
We will be adding more Perks and Videos along the Way.
Follow us on Facebook for more “Behind the scenes” at Blue Lizard Farm
Facebook Project Hoop House