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Dept. of Agriculture announces $301,000 awarded to promote and research specialty crops in Nevada


Image: Jacob's Family Berry Farm by Bob Conrad.
Image: Jacob’s Family Berry Farm by Bob Conrad.

SPARKS, Nev. – The Nevada Department of Agriculture (NDA) announced today more than $300,000 in awards for 14 projects in Nevada that promote and enhance specialty crops through education, research, marketing and production.

“The specialty crop block grant program is incredibly helpful for promoting Nevada crops,” said Jim Barbee, NDA director. “We are grateful for the funding from the USDA to enhance the competitiveness of Nevada’s specialty crop industry.”

Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops including floriculture.

Funded projects for 2014 include:

  • A program to increase student awareness of safe agricultural practices and sustainable field production techniques for specialty crops (Carson City Greenhouse Project at Carson High School).
  • Social media advertising and app development partnership between the Nevada Department of Agriculture and the Great Basin Food Cooperative (Reno)
  • Food safety, farm planning and marketing activities for specialty crop producers in partnership with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
  • Study to increase pumpkin production in Nevada with the Lazy P Adventure Farm (Winnemucca)
  • High Desert Farming Initiative’s (Reno) program to increase cost savings for specialty crop producers in Nevada by offering farmers an organic propagation service at a limited cost to farmers.

Nevada looks for projects that promote and enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops by increasing knowledge and consumption of specialty crops, improving distribution systems, enhancing produce safety, eradicating pest and plant health issues, specialty crop research and developing new and improved crop varieties.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week nearly $118 million in grants nationwide to strengthen markets for specialty crops. The grants were authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill as part of an effort to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops and provide resources to strengthen American agriculture.


Amount Awarded: $301,441.48. Number of Projects: 14.

1.     Partner with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension to inform specialty crop producers about economically viable food safety practices giving them a realistic estimate for farm planning and marketing activities by quantifying the costs associated with implementing food safety practices and assessing the levels of adoption.

2.     Partner with the Great Basin Community Food Cooperative to increase consumer awareness, appreciation, and demand for Nevada grown specialty crops by using a mobile app that provides an engaging platform for the people of Northern Nevada to directly connect with their specialty crop producers and their products.

3.     Elevate the presence and awareness of Nevada’s specialty crops online by producing and airing videos featuring Nevada specialty crop producers, growers, and retailers.

4.     Partner with the Greenhouse Project to increase student awareness of Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) and sustainable field production techniques for specialty crops by developing a student-run community supported agriculture (CSA) program in which students, Nevada’s future specialty crop farmers, learn about growing vegetables, food safety procedures, marketing products and farm production business skills.

5.     Partner with the Main Street Gardnerville Program Corporation to increase nutrition knowledge and consumption of specialty crops by facilitating a nutrition workshop and community garden where parents of participating families will learn the value of freshly harvested fruits and vegetables.

6.     Partner with the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology and Urban Roots to increase interest in and demand for specialty crops in the Washoe County School communities by developing and implementing a curriculum focused on educating educate children in the K-12 system about the variety of crops that are available to them and how to grow, harvest, eat and sell their own healthy produce.

7.     Partner with the Lincoln Communities Action Team to enhance the economic viability of Nevada specialty crop producers and entrepreneurs by introducing business concepts, and specific expertise in creating and marketing simple value-added products through a series of workshops.

8.     Partner with Urban Roots to promote an economically sustainable beekeeping network in Northern Nevada by providing general guidelines to the overall farming and gardening community to identify beekeeping techniques that are unique to our high-altitude, dry climate and relevant to season extension farming in Nevada.

9.     Partner with the High Desert Farming Initiative to increase Nevada farmers’ agricultural and economic knowledge to successfully grow raspberries in hoop houses by creating a document outlining the best practices for growing raspberries in hoop houses in the harsh Nevada climate.

10.  Partner with Lazy P Adventure Farm to increase pumpkin production in Nevada by conducting a study to identify viable varieties of pumpkins and cultural practices that will prosper in our local climate, soil conditions, growing season and offer resistance to pests and diseases.

11.  Partner with Urban Roots to encourage and guide producers to grow hops successfully by conducting variety trials to identify hop varieties that will thrive in Nevada’s high desert ecology and yield highly desirable qualities for Nevada brewers.

12.  Partner with the Tea House Gardens to identify, restore, and return local heritage apple groves back into production by soliciting heritage apple grove owners to participate in a multiyear renewable agreement to receive volunteer horticultural services in exchange for a portion of their crop; recruiting, managing, and training community volunteers to learn and practice horticultural restorative care, pest control, and maintenance of enrolled apple groves; and presenting an annual community cider-making event that promotes the project while engaging community members in making and sharing fresh cider.

13.  Partner with the High Desert Farming Initiative to increase cost-savings for specialty crop producers in Nevada by offering farmers an organic propagation service in Reno, Nevada at a limited cost to farmers.

14.  Ensure that the State Agency and sub-awardees abide by Federal and State requirements and regulations by performing pre- award and post-award activities to administer Specialty Crop Block Grant Program funding.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.