University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Orchard in North Las Vegas contains about 600 fruit-bearing trees and vines and 1/3 acre to grow row crops. In 2009 it provided educational opportunities for 96 volunteers to gain hands-on experience gr
owing food crops while providing labor for the Orchard. This program works hand-in-hand with the Producer to Chef program focused on developing marketing channels for locally produced foods. The long-term goal is to increase the quality and quantity of urban fruit production and small-scale commercial production. Education and training for volunteers is through a variety of methods including interactive discussions, demonstrations, experiential learning, written materials, and mentoring of others by myself, a research technician and skilled volunteers. There is a fruit newsletter provided free of charge to the community on how to grow fruit trees and vegetables in our Mojave Desert climate and soils. In 2010 classes taught will include how to grow peaches, asparagus, wine grapes and winemaking and many others.The facility is used for researching and demonstrating fruit production under our desert climate. The facility is used for researching and demonstrating fruit production under our desert climate. The Orchard is testing and demonstrating many varieties of tree fruits, table grapes, wine grapes, blackberries, strawberries and nopales. The Orchard, managed by Master Gardener volunteers under the supervision of Robert Morris’ advisement, developed the Orchard mission statement, “To create an environmentally sensitive demonstration fruit orchard to provide the greater Las Vegas community with educational information.” Research and educational activities are under Morris’ direction, with assistance from volunteers, and aimed at backyard and small-scale organic fruit production under desert conditions.