Front & Back of the House
Herbs by Diane
“Herbs by Diane,” is somewhat of a misnomer. Diane Greene grows much more than herbs including a wide range of greens, squash and other seasonal vegetables, and an exhaustive offering of microgreens. She also has dried herbs and blends, handmade soaps, herb-infused vinegars, and potted plants. Not only a farmer, she is somewhat of a restaurant historian, having been involved in the local food scene for many years, and is knowledgeable about the nutritional content of her plants.
Greene began growing organic produce in 1974 for her family in Boulder City. It was a passion. Her mother trained horses and her father bought “horse property” south of downtown on San Felipe Drive. “They were the first ones on the street,” she said.
Like all good recreational properties, the garage/storage building was built first, followed by corrals and training spaces, and eventually the house and other smaller outbuildings. The property was transformed to a farm when Greene moved there in 2012. Today, this two-acre property has spaces for mulching, potting, growing microgreens and drying herbs, plus two large gardens and refrigerated storage for delivery-ready produce.
When asked how she manages to grow such healthy, happy plants, she replies, “It’s all in the beds. A good deep bed, rich with organic mulch, allows plants to grow even in this weather.”
Her mulch really is beautiful. It is heavy and black with an earthy smell of dirt, leaves and forest floor. “Rather than using pesticides or chemical fertilizers, our compost is made on-site to feed the gardens,” said Greene. “Weeds are hand-pulled and insects are physically removed. Maintaining a natural balance in the gardens produces healthier plants and reduces pest populations,” she continued.
It is truly an organic operation.
Because her growing area is relatively small—only two acres—Greene cultivates many plants that she calls, “cut and grow.” These are plants that are harvested above the ground, leaving the roots intact to continue producing throughout the season. This is in contrast to plants such as carrots, onions and potatoes, that leave nothing but an empty hole when harvested.
Greene doesn’t do all the work by herself. Throughout this past summer, she had 14 people working two hours a day, four days a week. Their days started early to avoid the heat. Now seven of her employees have gone back to school so she’ll be spending even more hours in the sun.
“Farm to fork,” is a challenging concept in the Valley with the blistering heat and the low humidity. Greene is one of the few growers in the area who has managed to overcome the elements and continuously supply restaurants with produce and participate in farmers markets.
In the past she worked with many chefs including Chef Rick Moonen at RM Seafood in Mandalay Bay and Chef Mark Purdy at Alize in the Palms (both restaurants have since closed). Currently she supplies Chef Roy Ellamar at Harvest in the Bellagio, Chef Nicole Brisson at Locale and Chef Jackson Stamper at Atomic Kitchen, among many others throughout the Valley.
Ten years ago, Greene participated in a farmers market in a warehouse owned by Mario Batali, former owner of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria. “It was perfect,” said Greene. “We were inside, everything stayed fresh. We just rolled in the produce and put it on the table, no refrigerator required.”
Another indoor market she participated in was at Tivoli Village for years. Those indoor markets are important in Vegas and Greene wonders if a vacant K-Mart or grocery store wouldn’t make an ideal location for
Greene is entirely fearless. She works every day in the garden and personally makes deliveries on Thursdays and Sundays. She also works hard to stay current on Facebook, posting several pictures of her produce and team of workers several times a day.
One of her current sales strategies is to send out a weekly email to area chefs and individuals. The message covers all of the items she has available, the price and where it can be picked up and when. Greene delivers directly to all of her restaurant customers, but many of the restaurants will keep an individual’s order in the cooler until he/she arrives.
Other pickup options? She is always at her farm between 8 and 10 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. She is also available by appointment for anyone wanting to pick up produce or have a free tour.
Needing fresh herbs for a special dinner you’re planning? Email Diane and get on her mailing list. And, remember, she has produce year-round including fresh bay leaves