University of Nevada, Reno’s Desert Farming Initiative this year has donated more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to area food pantries this year, according to UNR Experiment Station officials. The harvest has gone to local food pantries to provide for students and community members in need.
The demonstration and research farm, operated on the eastern edge of campus on Valley Road, is part of a research unit focused on sustainable agriculture and researching high-desert farming practices. This year’s growing season was more difficult than most.
“We grow over 90 varieties of fruits and vegetables on the farm,” said Jill Moe, who is now director of the Initiative and began volunteering for it in 2018. “We had a lot of challenges this year – smoke and air quality so bad some days that we had to shut down the farm, equipment challenges, and heat waves. I’m really proud of what our staff and volunteers were able to accomplish.”
Farm officials said they harvested more than 13,000 pounds of produce this year, most of which they sold at the Great Basin Community Food Coop, Fallon Food Hub and area farmers markets.
Proceeds from the sales, along with donations and grant funding, support the farm’s Farm-to-Food Pantry partnership with the University’s Pack Provisions and Community Health Alliance’s WIC nutrition assistance program. Pack Provisions provides free food for students in need. A 2020 student survey found one in four students reported experiencing food insecurity.
Moe said she hopes to soon add climate controls to the farm’s hoop houses to extend the growing season. Spring and fall growing has been good, she said, but winter production is limited. She estimates a retrofit with climate controls could double their winter food pantry deliveries. The Initiative has started a crowdfunding campaign to fund the improvements.
In southern Nevada, UNR Extension’s Research Center and Demonstration Orchard donated more than 5,000 pounds of produce to the community. The orchard is a cooperative effort between the Extension, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the City of North Las Vegas.
Source: UNR Extension