(Former NV SARE coordinator Loretta Singletary completed this 2014 report. Seth Urbanowitz was named state SARE coordinator in the spring of 2015 and Steve Foster in summer of 2015.)
Summary of 2014 PDP Activities and Results:
Western SARE PDP supported activities in 2013-15 and focused on building the capacity of UNR faculty and affiliates, USDA, and NV Department of Agriculture professionals to address key educational needs of producers addressing sustainable agriculture needs/issues in Nevada. A key focus was to continue the development of a statewide outreach program on farm/ranch site pre- and post-harvest food safety. Additionally, UNR faculty attended professional development trainings in California and Maryland relating to developing and improving the Nevada Small Farm Conference, ranchers/farmers irrigation systems evaluation, produce safety, growth of indoor agriculture and greenhouse benefits, and to national programs for teaching locals how to create successful value-add products. Nevada’s faculty/staff are using knowledge gained from attending conferences and trainings to ensure a safe, secure, and affordable food supply in Nevada through teaching USDA professionals and producers how to grow food sustainably and safely while also sustaining and/or increasing profitability.
Context and Overview:
In 2014 (extended at no cost to April 30th, 2015) the Nevada Western SARE-PDP focused on: 1) continuing development of Nevada’s first pre- and post-harvest food safety training curriculum for producers and agency professionals and 2) providing travel scholarships to professionals to attend sustainability related training provided by other organizations, associations, or groups.
Major expectations are for participants to improve their knowledge of “sustainability principles” and use it in their programming with Nevada audiences. Extension faculty initiated stronger working relationships with the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NVDOA).In particular, Cooperative Extension is training NVDOA and related professionals on the topic of Good Agricultural Practices for farmers and ranchers. For additional information concerning Cooperative Extension activities, see website.
Activities and Methods:
A major focus of the Western SARE-PDP program is help Cooperative Extension faculty/staff, NRCS, and other agency professionals to improve their knowledge/understanding of SARE principles and/or to share this with other agricultural professionals (NRCS staff provides their own funding for training). This included supporting:
Jill Heaton (Associate Professor of Geography) attended the California Small Farm Conference, March 10-11, 2014, in Rohnert Park, CA. The reason for attending was to seek ideas, confirmation, and inspiration for the Nevada Small Farm Conference. The California conference reminded, by its lack of emphasis, of the importance of remaining focused on production agriculture in the Nevada conference. There was concern regarding a revolving door of just a limited number of Nevada speakers. This problem was very evident in the CA conference. Jill went to four sessions (the maximum that could be attended) and found one individual prominently involved in three of the four. It is critical that we seek new speakers from within and outside of our own committee to keep our conference vibrant, relevant, and new. The number and diversity of vendors at the California conference was impressively diverse. There were 32 and 21 vendors, respectively at the California and Nevada conferences in 2014. Although twice the size in number of participants, we could still grow our vendor list by attracting relevant vendors that attended the California conference (download the complete Onsite Guide to see attending vendors).
Seth Urbanowitz (Extension Educator) attended the Irrigation System Evaluation Short Course, June 15-21, 2014. Seth Urbanowitz attended Irrigation System Evaluation Short Course at California Polytechnic State University. The training afforded Seth with the opportunity to obtain the necessary skills to properly evaluate six distinct irrigation methods (furrow, border strip, hand move/side roll sprinkler, linear move sprinkler, under tree sprinkler, and drip/micro).
Seth Urbanowitz (Extension Educator) attended the short course Produce Safety: A Science-based Framework Workshop at University California, Davis on November 5-7, 2014. The training afforded Seth with the opportunity to further his knowledge on produce safety and risk mitigation strategies. The knowledge gained will improve produce safety trainings and the development of outreach educational material.
Jeff Bryant (“Urban Roots” Executive Director, UNR affiliate) attended the California Small Farm Conference, March 10-11, 2014, in Rohnert Park, CA. The workshop that had the greatest influence on work with Urban Roots was entitled “Beneficial Insect Habitat Development and Conservation.” The workshop discussed how small farms can provide better habitat for pollinators and conserve populations for a healthier micro-ecosystem. One point of emphasis was the integration of hedgerows and their positive impact on increased production for farmers. Learning how similar small farmers have developed hedgerows and integrated them into already limited growing spaces was inspiring.
Raymond Saliga (Farm Supervisor High Desert Farming Initiative at UNR Small Business Development Center) attended the 2nd Indoor Agriculture Conference May 13-14, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV. Topics included controlled environment agriculture, the impact of production methods on food nutrition, and urban agriculture and how it may affect global food systems in the next thirty years. As many of the inquiries Raymond received at HDFI are related to the establishment of small farms and market gardens, be them indoor, hoop house, or highly controlled environments, he was interested to learn about the capital and labor costs involved in setting up and operating a modern controlled-environment operation and how they compare to a hoop-house operation, such as the High Desert Farming Initiative.
Carol Bishop (Extension Educator) attended the 2nd Annual Indoor Agricultural Conference, May 14-15, 2014, at Springs Preserve, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Attending this conference helped her learn current information about the opportunities in indoor agriculture and help producers become more diverse, reducing the amount of water needed, growing more product in less space, and enabling “local grown” to exist in urban areas that are potential food deserts. Bishop learned about techniques like vertical growing and gained direct access to expertise in the indoor agriculture industry. There is much interest in this subject area in Southern Nevada due to the limitations imposed by our hot summers. Indoor growing would alleviate some of these issues.
Holly Gatzke (Extension Educator) attended the National Value Added Agriculture Conference on May 13-15, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. By attending the conference she learned about other national programs for teaching locals how to create successful value-add products and has since developed plans for a program in Nevada that has been incorporated into grant applications. Holly also learned much on food systems, distribution, profit determination, implementing food safety, and many other topics which are being used to create a more in-depth value added business education program.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
Western SARE PDP funds were used to provide graphic design for UNCE faculty to develop and produce Nevada’s first Food Safety curriculum targeting Nevada agricultural producers. Funds also were used to assist with the cost of printing this UNCE peer reviewed and approved professionally designed Food Safety Curriculum for public distribution.
Impacts and contributions:
Attending the California Small Farm Conference, Jill Heaton acquired knowledge, working contacts, ideas and inspiration for the Nevada Small Farm Conference. The information was shared and discussed with conference committee that represents farmers, ranchers, businesses, public and nonprofit organizations, and community members. The knowledge Jill received from the Conference was essential for helping develop the agenda for the Nevada Small Farm Conference, for continuing to emphasize production agriculture, renew efforts to diversify speakers, and move to expand vendor participation at the Nevada Small Farm Conference.
Through his participation in Irrigation System Evaluation Short Course at California Polytechnic State University(June 2014), Seth Urbanowitz gained the knowledge to improve distribution uniformity and water use efficiency in White Pine County and Nevada as well as improve the quality of produce food safety training in Nevada. Since attending the training, Urbanowitz taught agricultural producers how to improve distribution uniformity and water use efficiency in five rural communities as part of the Living with Drought workshop series. He also taught information on irrigation evaluation to beef producers and agricultural professionals during the Nevada Cattlemen’s Update held in seven locations throughout the state and broadcast via video-conference to remote rural locations. The knowledge he obtained from attending the short course on Produce Safety: A Science-based Framework Workshop at University California, Davis (November 2014) is being used to improve produce safety trainings and outreach educational materials. Information was shared with producers and agricultural professionals in Good Agricultural Practices training in November held by UNCE and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Urbanowitz has trained more than 80 Nevada producers in Good Agricultural since he initiated this WesterhnSARE PDP funded program in 2013. He also used the knowledge he acquired from attending this year’s course and last year’s course to develop and publish Nevada’s first peer-reviewed Food Safety Training manual for producers (in press). Titled Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices: Risk Mitigation in Edible Horticultural Production Systems” (CM-15-01, this curriculum material will be disseminated throughout the state to increase compliance with federal food production and harvesting safety guidelines. Urbanowitz also developed an instrument to assess costs for producers to comply with Food Safety certification requirements. He plans to implement the assessment in 2015.
After attending the California Small Farm Conference in March, 2014 Jeff Bryant wrote a grant to the Nevada Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and was funded to look at the role of pollinators in season-extension farming through developing effective pollinator habitats. This project will take place at the Urban Roots Farm and at the High Desert Farming Initiative (HDFI) at the University of Nevada-Reno’s Valley Road Field Station. Results of this research project will be integrated into current outreach and training materials for new and existing Nevada farmers within both Urban Roots’ and HDFI’s programs. Bryant was successful in his proposal application with funding awarded in December 2014.
Raymond Saliga applied the information obtained from 2nd Indoor Agriculture Conference (March 2014) to improve management of HDFI and advise volunteer students/workers and the public on the costs and benefits of greenhouse and indoor agriculture. Saliga regularly receives and addresses questions about organic production, specifically regarding yield, product quality, and impacts on human nutrition. Recent trials at HDFI are showing measurable impact in marketability, overall sales, and profits. Carol Bishop who also attended the 2nd Annual Indoor Agricultural Conference noted that Nevada’s interest in indoor agriculture is growing rapidly. Since the conference, Bishop has met with local indoor producers to assessongoing educational needs and is preparing workshops accordingly.
Since attending the National Value Added Agriculture Conference in May 2014, Holly Gatzke has taught workshops on developing a home-based food business. Holly is developing a series of special publications on creating baked goods, jams, jellies and preserves, and dried products in Nevada. She was invited to speak on how to develop and insure value added business at the Nevada Small Farm Conference in January 2015. The presentation was rated as “excellent” by participants and was noted as a huge information asset in improving food related programing in Nevada.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
Nevada does not have an identified Western SARE-PDP advisory committee. Given the urban nature of Nevada (86%), the vast open spaces, and 87% of public lands with increasing pockets of small, diverse agricultural operations, soliciting stakeholder input is an ongoing process that Extension Educators maintain rather than the result of a selected advisory group. Cooperative Extension and state/federal agency personnel in Nevada are small in number. As a result, there exists a close working relationship among professionals at the county and state levels. In 2014, the Western SARE PDP State Coordinator sought to increase joint or cooperative programming between UNCE and other UNR campus based faculty and staff and Nevada Department of Agriculture with a focus on pre- and post-harvest food safety. This was accomplished through awarding travel scholarships to UNR faculty and staff working on sustainable agricultural issues and/or teaching classes on the subject. For example, the series of trainings Seth Urbanowitz developed and taught to professionals and producers across the state in 2014, based on the professional development he received using SARE PDP scholarship funds, served as an ongoing assessment to gage demand for water conservation technologies and food safety information. Ongoing discussion with agricultural agencies in addition to members of Cattleman’s Association, Nevada Grown, Nevada Small Farm Institute, and Nevada Farm Bureau occur throughout the year to identify emerging programming needs. The State Western SARE-PDP Coordinator also confers directly with Extension, other UNR faculty and staff, and related outreach agency professionals in addition to tribal and non-tribal agricultural producers and agricultural NGOs.