R.L. Morris, M. Norton, D. Devitt, E. Zamora, R. Heflebower, R. Call
Southern Nevada, which contains the rapidly growing city of Las Vegas and is located in the eastern edge of the Mojave Desert, is home to 6,000 new residents each month composed of new families, senior citizens and a fast-growing Hispanic community, predominantly of Mexican heritage. Las Vegas has one of the largest food service industries in North America which feeds nearly 40 million visitors each year and is now considered a restaurant destination for tourists due to the growth in numbers and quality of fine dining restaurants in recent years. Southern Nevada has little history of production agriculture since the nature of its economy is driven by tourism and gaming. This consumer-driven economy generates a huge demand for fresh produce derived almost entirely from the surrounding states of California, Arizona, Utah and more recently Mexico. All of these regions have production areas in arid or desert environments with University and Extension faculty trained in food production. Due to past downsizing, the University of Nevada has few remaining faculty in horticulture or ancillary disciplines such as irrigation or pest management. In 1997 the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) established a fruit research and demonstration orchard near Las Vegas staffed entirely by volunteers. The experimental orchard and vineyard was established to evaluate potential cultivars and to develop cultural and pest management practices that are appropriate for the severe desert climate of the region. From 2003-2006 informal, strategic partnerships were formed between UNCE, University of California Cooperative Extension, Utah State University Cooperative Extension, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and the University of Sonora-Hermosillo, Mexico, for the purpose of training volunteers, small-scale producers and the general public in fruit production and marketing methods. Workshops, seminars, field demonstrations and an electronic newsletter targeting potential small-scale farmers and home gardeners were developed focusing on fruit, vegetable, and edible cactus production. Participant surveys and the growth of small scale high quality production and marketing to local gourmet restaurants indicate that the information presented is now being utilized.
Morris, R.L., Norton, M., Devitt, D., Zamora, E., Heflebower, R. and Call, R. (2009). AN INTERNATIONAL AND MULTI INSTITUTIONAL COOPERATIVE DESERT HORTICULTURE PROGRAM FOR SOUTHERN NEVADA. Acta Hortic. 832, 147-152
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2009.832.19
fruit production, community education, demonstration orchard, research, marketing, local food, volunteers, slow food

Acta Horticulturae