skip to main content


Horticulture Programs

Healing gardens in Las Vegas

A new elementary school opens every month in Las Vegas, with pupils from many cultural and economic backgrounds. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension school gardens, community gardens and healing gardens essentially become outdoor classrooms and also build community spirit.


Using horticulture to develop a community spirit is new to southern Nevada. A new elementary school opens every month in Las Vegas, with pupils from many cultural and economic backgrounds. Many of these students have little, if any, interaction with nature. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension school gardens essentially become outdoor classrooms that are an important alternative teaching tool for many schools and in prisons. Community gardens are a model for community development, which provide opportunities for physical activity as well as and nutritional improvement.

Healing gardens are located at health facilities, such as nursing homes, hospitals and hospices. They are used by patients, families and staff as a respite place, not for production. However, gardening in southern Nevada can be difficult due to low water supplies, poor soils and temperature extremes.

What Has Been Done:

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) has been involved in the development of a number of community gardens in southern Nevada, all at different stages of development. Several developing communities are incorporating gardens as part of their environment. The Blankenship garden is maintained by its gardeners, a UNCE Master Gardener and the Doolittle Senior Center. Acacia Park has a strong horticulture education component, and the Robert Gordon Annex (a senior housing development) is building a community garden with individual gardens for residents. A new educational park is being established at Oliver Ranch, with Master Gardeners’ participation. Apache Pines, a family housing development, uses the Junior Master Gardener curriculum.

New health care facilities are including healing gardens as part of their plans. The St. Rose Hospital healing garden has been in existence for more than three years. Nathan Adelson Hospice is planning a healing garden, and Master Gardeners are involved in its development.

To reach school children, the Food for Thoughts program was established in southern Nevada to teach school faculty, staff and students to effectively install and use gardens as outdoor classrooms. The gardens offer children an alternative site for learning, promote awareness of the desert environment and encourage healthy eating and activities. Since 2004, the program has worked hands-on with 50 schools in their educational gardening efforts, providing information to nearly 11,000 students.


In 2005, Food for Thoughts staff and volunteers, including nine Master Gardeners, taught 2,854 school staff both directly and in collaboration with other groups. The program reached 9,513 students in 50 schools. Clark County Professional Development Education used "Food, Land & People!" as a base curriculum to train educators, who said they will use the curriculum. In addition, Junior Master Gardeners said they would also use the program. Anecdotal evidence of the value of a healing garden came from one surgical patient at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, who said, "Spending time in the healing garden was a period of peace in the middle of a very stressful experience."


Private Entities, Clark County School District

Horticulture Programs

Programs Program Information

Carson City Community Garden

The Community Garden began in 2001 and allows community members who don’t have room for a vegetable garden to rent a 4-by-16-foot garden bed for $20 a season at a 25-bed garden complex on Beverly Drive east of the cemetery. The price includes water, soil preparation, some seeds and fertilizer.

Community Beautification through Horticulture

Desert Green, Commercial Water Conservation Training

Desert Green is in its eleventh year and is designed to educate commercial clientele in the Green Industry as well as others who have an interest in water conservation issues. A committee representing the industry implements the training. Desert Green is chaired by one industry representative and one UNCE representative. The program is presented once a year, with 36 classes taught in a two-day period. A committee of industry representative reviews evaluations from the previous year to decide future educational direction and topics. During the evaluation process, the program is reviewed, modified and revised according to the needs of the clientele. As part of the marketing of this program, two articles citing the importance of Desert Green appear in regional trade publications.

Food for Thoughts, School Garden

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Food for Thoughts program was established in 2004 and built on the school gardens program. It offers children an alternative site for learning, promotes awareness of the desert environment, demonstrates the geographic sources of their food and encourages healthy eating and activities.

Green Industry Training Programs of Northern Nevada

Green Industry Training (GIT) and Green Industry Continuing Education Series (GICES) are cost- and time-efficient approaches to serving the Green Industries of northern Nevada, including nursery workers, landscapers, arborists, irrigation and lawn care professionals. The Green Industry Training program begins in late winter with eight three-hour sessions of entry-level training for new industry workers, for those desiring to work in the industry and for existing industry professionals desiring a skills "tune-up." After "basic training," industry members are invited to monthly continuing education opportunities — one hour per month over the noon hour — to hone and improve their skills.

Grow Your Own, Nevada

Grow Your Own, Nevada is a statewide University of Nevada Cooperative Extension program designed to help people discover the secrets to gardening in our high-desert climate. The program includes eight two-hour weekly sessions. Classes are held live in Reno in the spring, summer and fall, and are provided by video conference to Cooperative Extension offices across the state.

Healing gardens in Las Vegas

A new elementary school opens every month in Las Vegas, with pupils from many cultural and economic backgrounds. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension school gardens, community gardens and healing gardens essentially become outdoor classrooms and also build community spirit.

Master Gardeners in Nevada

Master Gardeners provide free, research-based horticulture information to Nevadans. They are volunteers who learn advanced plant science skills from at least 50 hours of classroom instruction by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) professionals. After training, Master Gardeners volunteer a minimum of at least 50 hours a year to pass along their newly acquired knowledge through the media, talks and workshops. They answer phone calls, send out informational materials and develop community gardens.

Nevada Desert Bioscape

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Desert Bioscape program takes a holistic approach to conserving natural resources in an urban setting. The goal of this program is to teach homeowners and commercial clientele to conserve water and energy, reduce pesticide and chemical fertilizer use, and promote wildlife habitat in a sustainable manner. Components include wildlife and conservation landscaping, constructed home wetlands for water recycling, a research project to find and determine water-efficient plants for the southern Nevada area and a research project to determine the use and benefit of natural organic mulches in the Mojave Desert.

Producer to Chef

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Producer to Chef program introduces small farms within 120 miles of Las Vegas to high-end Las Vegas restaurants which will pay top dollar for fresh, locally grown agricultural products.

The Greenhouse Project

The Carson City Greenhouse Project was conceptualized in November 2008 in partnership between UNCE; the Carson City Cultural Commission; The Greenhouse Project Committee, a grassroots, community organization; the Carson City School District; Nevada State Parks; and numerous volunteers. The Greenhouse Project serves as a teaching facility for hands on programs at the Carson City High School. Students help to cultivate and distribute vegetables and herbs for culinary classes and community food banks. Additional flower baskets are grown to beautify downtown Carson City.

Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training

The Weed Warriors Invasive Weed Training Program is held several times a year, usually in late winter or spring. This eight-hour, two-day introductory-level training introduces participants to the principles of Integrated Weed Management and focuses on improving ability to identify noxious weeds of local importance. A small fee is charged for program materials, and the class can be videoconferenced to other locations upon request. Each year, several dozen people go through the training and become certified Weed Warriors. Pesticide applicators receive six Continuing Education Credits for attending this course. Each year in May during a community event in the Truckee Meadows, Weed Warrior volunteers help rid parks and riverfront areas of invasive thistles.