Program provides information to help Nevadans successfully grow their own food
A major area of program emphasis for Cooperative Extension is to “improve food security through home and small-scale production.” Many communities (29 out of 487 census tracts) in Nevada are considered food deserts: they have limited access to fresh foods. Many Nevadans desire to grow their own foods to gain access to safe and healthy produce and to become more self-sufficient. A statewide needs assessment published by Extension in 2012 reported home and local food production as a top horticultural need and emerging trend for the state.
Response/What’s Been Done
Grow Your Own, Nevada! offered two eight-class sessions in 2017: one in the spring and one in the fall. Classes were held at the Washoe County Cooperative Extension office and offered via interactive video at Cooperative Extension offices throughout the state in 13 other counties. Each class was two hours, and topics covered beneficial insects, garden cleanup, cover cropping, canning jams and jellies, hoop houses, raised beds, soil preparation, starting from seeds, tomatoes, edible landscapes, fruit trees, berry growing, and pest control. Participants who attended all eight classes in a session received a USB flash drive containing gardening resources. Total attendance including all sessions in 2017 was 972.
Results/Impact and Partners
Since 2011, 5,312 people have been trained in local food production methods, resulting in at least six home gardeners deciding to sell their produce to local farmers markets, two people deciding to start a local food business, and 26 people donating excess produce to local food pantries, not to mention the thousands of homeowners who produced food for their own households’ consumption, many sharing with neighbors and friends.
In a survey of the fall participants, 356 respondents reported an average gain in knowledge of 63 percent.
Partners included local producers and gardeners who speak at classes.