Urban Gardening: How Southern Nevada Supports Urban Gardening
After looking at the benefits of consuming local foods or growing them yourself, and learning the important steps for gardening in a desert city, our Urban Gardening series concludes by discussing how the Southern Nevada community is supporting local produce. There is a tendency to view agriculture as an abstract process only occurring in huge farms far removed from our city. Instead, agriculture should be considered a more personal experience between each person and nature. Unfortunately, many metropolitan residents have difficulty experiencing nature when they are surrounded by concrete, roads, and buildings. This is probably more exemplified in environments such as deserts, where gardening seems laughable at first glance.
Thankfully, there are initiatives in Southern Nevada that are bringing residents closer to their food sources. Most noticeable are the farmers markets, which bring locally grown produce and foods to the community. Secondly, many schools in the Clark County School District have built gardens on school property, creating additional opportunities for students to learn first-hand about horticulture, culinary arts, and many other subjects. Local businesses and non-profit organizations are volunteering time and resources to help make these projects possible. Thirdly, educational opportunities are available to learn and enhance gardening skills.
Farmers markets are located throughout the Las Vegas valley. For example, Fresh52 holds one in Tivoli Village (Summerlin) as well as one at Sansone Park Place (S Eastern/215). Another is the 3rd St Downtown Market directly off the US 95 & Casino Center Dr. nestled just north of the downtown strip casino corridor. Another option is visiting local farms that are open to the public, such as Gilcrease Orchard, located in northern Las Vegas near the Centennial Hills area. Gilcrease Orchard has roots in Southern Nevada since the 1920’s, and the sixty acre portion of the orchard that remains is now an established nonprofit, dedicated to preserving the orchard for future generations and creating educational experiences for nearby residents young and old. Gilcrease has a variety of vegetables and fruits visitors can hand pick and offers school field trips, tours, and picnic areas.
Gardening in Clark County School District
This February Valley High School completed a garden on campus with the help of nonprofit organization Green Our Planet and local businesses JBA Consulting Engineers and Garden Farms. Green Our Planet operates a free crowdfunding platform where visitors can donate to or create green projects such as supporting school gardens.
Valley High School recently had the opportunity to work closely with Green Our Planet to find funding for a garden. We were lucky enough to receive a generous partner, JBA Consulting Engineers, who was able to sponsor the start of Valley’s garden. With the help of JBA and Garden Farms, Valley was able to break ground in February and build 6 garden beds. Valley High School’s science department, special programs, and culinary classes will all be able to utilize the garden and build it into their curriculum. Students will learn how to grow fruits and veggies, while learning to compost and care for the garden. This provides valuable experience for students to learn where food comes from. It provides a fresh taste to what is typically called a “food desert” in central Las Vegas. –Nikki Correa, Valley High School
According to their website, by the end of this Summer Green Our Planet will have funded 100 school gardens, and as a recipient of the American Honda Foundation grant to create K-5 science (STEM) lessons for use in school gardens. This will be “the first time K-5 schools have had access to an up-to-date STEM garden curriculum throughout the state.”
Gardening Fun for Kids and Adults
The Springs Preserve is a great resource available to Southern Nevadans interested in gardening in an urban, desert environment. Home of the Nevada State Museum, over 100 acres of gardens and wildlife habitat, exhibits, and recreation activities. Springs Preserve also conducts: gardening workshops, drip irrigation courses, kids’ nature and science camps, cooking classes, and a semi-annual plant sale. They also host a farmers market on Thursdays.
Finally, with help from our northern neighbor, the University of Nevada-Reno, through their Cooperative Extension program, offers training to become a Master Gardener. As a program that began in the 1990’s, UNR realized that many new residents in Nevada did not have the plant knowledge to grow in Nevada’s arid conditions. The course includes 80 hours of instruction, including several hours in a landscaping lab for “hands-on” study. There is a $200 fee to offset program expenses, and graduates are expected to volunteer community service time back to the Cooperative Extension.
It is easy to be enchanted by the neon and glamour of Las Vegas Boulevard and the many spectacular resorts that reside there. Consider, however, that beyond the glitz of the Strip, is a community that still depends on the same basic resources as any other community: water, food, energy, etc. Take advantage of the local resources and programs in Southern Nevada to enjoy food that is grown closer to home and to learn about urban gardening in the environment Southern Nevadans call home.
Green Chips Staff Writer