Finding Food in the Desert

Northern Nevadans know they live in the high desert, but many are surprised to find they also live in a food desert. One way to find fresh, healthy food where it can be scarce is to grow it yourself. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Horticulture Specialist Heidi Kratsch says that is why her Grow Your Own, Nevada! program exists.

“Because people care about growing their own food here,– and Cooperative Extension is all based on the needs of the community– and the community has said loud and clear, ‘we need to know how to grow our own food here in Nevada,’ so that’s why we’re doing it,” said Kratsch.

As students enter the classroom Tuesday night, participant John Davenport talks about why he comes to these classes.

“I gain a lot of information on how to do a wide variety of things,” says Davenport. “Fruit tree pruning, roses, raised flower beds, it never ends.”

The classroom falls silent as the class instructor, Wendy Hanson Mazet, begins her lecture on raised garden beds.

“I’m not going to tell you how you have to do it,” says Mazet. “Because everyone’s garden is their own masterpiece. It’s your own version of creativity and what works for you. And know that there is no steadfast rule that you have to hold to because it’s yours, and you can make it whatever you want and whatever works best for you.”

After class, coffee perks and water and conversation flow. Mazet encourages everyone to garden wherever we are. She says food gardens can be grown in pots, raised beds or even inside.

A broken plastic cabinet turned garden bed on an apartment patio shows how all can find food in the desert. Photo by Ashley Nickole Andrews.
A broken plastic cabinet converted into garden bed and placed on an apartment patio shows how all can find food in the desert. Photo by Ashley Nickole Andrews.

“Strawberries can be grown in the home. And you can pollinate them very easily by just shaking the flowers by your fingertips,” says Mazet. “But the thing is, see what you can do in your home. Do something that you like to eat. Not something that someone tells you to do. Do what you enjoy. Experiment. Failure is just an opportunity to learn new things.”

Ashley Andrews for the Reynolds School of Journalism.

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