Nevada-Reno Goes Into Farm Business

Dining Services set to be among the beneficiaries of campus’s organic farming initiative.

RENO, Nev.—This fall, the University of Nevada at Reno will join the ranks of those institutions of higher education that grow some of their own produce. A demonstration farm is planned on land located at UNR’s Valley Road lab, with the first crops to be planted in August.

The project is being called the High Desert Farming Initiative. According to a university news release, a $500,000 Small Business Development grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has made the farm possible. The land will hold a full greenhouse and six hoop houses.

In addition to the farm, the Valley Road location will also feature a small processing plant, in which the produce will be trimmed, washed and packed for delivery to the university’s Dining Services department, as well as to local restaurants.

The main focus of the program will be applied research into, and the demonstration of, hoop house, greenhouse and organic farming in high desert climates for local growers and the agriculture industry. The program also will educate students in growing crops and taking them to market and will assist small local organic farmers with their needs.

The program will be managed by a committee made up of university representatives and some local organic farmers.

“Hoop houses create their own ecosystems,” says Mark O’Farrell of Mother Hungry Organics, one of the community representatives on the committee. “That will allow us to manipulate the environment to protect plants from our harsh winters, as well as exercise more control over the crops’ quality. And hoop houses are a lot less expensive to build and operate than full-blown greenhouses.”

One of the primary beneficiaries of the farm’s produce will be the Dining Services department at UNR. Director of Dining Services Russ Meyer says his department has been pushing for such a program for several years.

“It’s going to be kind of cool,” Meyer says. “The university is going to incorporate academics into it, and we will finally be able to get organic produce in our facilities over the long term.”

Meyer adds that a number of vegetables will be grown on the acreage, primarily lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. He also notes that, even though the land will have its own processing plant, his department is constructing a produce washing station to handle the incoming vegetables.

Eventually, the university plans to recycle some of the waste produced on campus at the project site by turning it into compost. 

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Italian food hall chain Eataly is making plans for a 2018 initial public offering in its home country, according to a report this week in Financial Times.

The company plans to list shares on the Italian stock exchange in Milan “as early as next year,” Eataly Executive Chairman Andrea Guerra told Financial Times .

Eataly is eager to expand the presence of its massive Italian food emporiums in the U.S., which have helped spur the growing food hall trend . The company has five locations here, with two in New York City and one each in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston. Financial...

Industry News & Opinion

Students staffing the foodservice department at Rutgers University will soon get an hourly pay bump, as the New Brunswick, N.J., university is raising its wage for student workers to $11 an hour, philly.com reports.

The increase will go in effect Jan. 1 and will impact 13,000 students.

The fight to raise wages at the school was spearheaded by student group United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which is continuing to push the university to increase student wages to $15.

The fight for a $15 wage for student workers has spread at schools throughout the country,...

Industry News & Opinion

After shutting down 265 schools due to ongoing wildfires, the Los Angeles Unified School District kept three schools open on Friday and Saturday to provide meals for students and their families, the Los Angeles Times reports.

At one of the schools, employees and volunteers handed out around 100 meals on Friday and 270 meals on Saturday. The meals included items such as dragonfruit punch, raisins, bananas, sunflower kernels, whole-grain cinnamon graham crackers, sunflower seed butter and fat-free chocolate milk.

Around 80% of students in the district come from low-income...

Sponsored Content
Breakfast chili

From Bush’s Best®.

While decadent plates of French toast and pancakes stacked high will always be breakfast favorites, it’s undeniable that savory breakfast items are on the rise in many foodservice operations. Menu items such as avocado toast and omelets aren’t new, of course, but consumers’ preferences for better-for-you food choices, along with their desire for global flavors, are driving this trend.

According to a recent Technomic Breakfast report, consumer demand for vegetarian ingredients has led to an increase of ingredients like soy, tofu, beans, lentils, seeds,...

FSD Resources