The Desert Farming Initiative (DFI) is a collaboration between the University of Nevada, Reno College of Business, College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and community groups. Located in an urban setting just outside the UNR campus, the DFI is composed of heated greenhouses and hoop houses, vineyards, and a commercial wash station. The project addresses agricultural entrepreneurship, knowledge and the training needs of both students and community farmers through the following methods:
- Demonstration: Operate a diverse commercial farming enterprise and demonstrate – best crop varieties and farming techniques that are economically viable, and sustainable farming systems that are successful in the Nevadan high desert climate.
- Education: Create opportunities at the DFI farm to learn by doing, hands-on farm experiences for students, farmers, and the public. Provide resources and information about sustainable farming systems in a desert climate, food safety, and general crop production.
- Outreach: Actively inform and engage with the community and stakeholders about agricultural systems that address the challenges of both economic and environmental sustainability in desert climates; and provide assistance to growers regarding agricultural regulations, policies, safety, and crop production techniques.
- Research: Facilitate and develop research opportunities, collaborating with University faculty, students, Extension, and industry to discover new production methods and improve agricultural practices for desert climates.
We use certified organic vegetable starts from our plant propagation program. We incorporate some heirloom fruit and vegetable varieties. DFI primarily follows organic farming principles in choosing soil amendments, fertilizers and pesticides. Our produce is distributed through a Farm Share Program (CSA), Farm to Food Pantry Program, and is offered for sale to the public through a variety of retail outlets.