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High Desert Farming Initiative delivers first batch of produce


PHOTO: Nevada Department of Agriculture

 UNR residence hall students dine on locally-grown organic produce thanks to local, sustainable farming initiative

UNR NEWS – In mid-December, the Downunder Café, the University of Nevada, Reno’s resident dining facility, accepted delivery of the first certified crops from the High Desert Farming Initiative. This included eight varieties of organic lettuce grown in their 9,600-square-foot facility located on the eastern edge of the campus. The products are being offered to Downunder Café customers as a permanent addition on the regular dining menu.

The partnership between Nevada Dining and High Desert Farming Initiative began in 2011. High Desert’s objective was to develop and implement an educational program in sustainable farming systems specific to high desert climates. Located at the University’s Valley Road Field Labs and Greenhouse Complex, the operation provides research and hands-on educational experience to the University’s students and faculty. Nevada Dining’s objective is to enhance the dining hall’s sustainability profile by becoming a guaranteed outlet for the farm’s products. This allows the Downunder Cafe to offer guests the freshest table greens in Reno.
“We’ve been anticipating this for a couple of years,” Russ Meyer, associate director for housing operations and dining services, said. “We have always been in favor of using locally grown produce. For the first time, we have a large enough source that can keep up with our needs on a weekly basis, year-round.”
The High Desert Farming Initiative was made possible by the University’s Nevada Small Business Development Center in collaboration with Sen. Harry Reid and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD provided $500,000 to help fund the project. The initiative includes eight hoop houses, two greenhouses and a washing/storage facility.
The community outreach initiative is guided by a committee of University and community representatives, including Rick Lattin of Lattin Farms and faculty from the Nevada Small Business Development Center; College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources; College of Business and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
For more information about residence life dining, contact Dennis Saxon, marketing director, Nevada Dining, 775-682-8956 or [email protected]. For more information about the High Desert Farming Initiative contact Jennifer Ott, 707-280-9479 or [email protected].
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