Desert Farming Initiative

Desert Farming Initiative

University of Nevada, Reno
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

DFI partners with the Nevada Department of Agriculture to train and provide educational resources for farmers in anticipation of enforcement of FSMA in 2019 and upcoming years.

Food safety planning can be overwhelming at the outset, but there are many helpful links and guidance documents available from the Produce Safety Alliance to assist growers. First of all, check to see if your farm is covered or exempt from FSMA.

DFI just completed an update of its Food Safety Plan that can be used as a reference by area growers. Our plan is intended to meet GAP and FSMA requirements – it includes specific procedures and a streamlined record keeping system. Wondering how GAP and FSMA are related? Here is an article that provides an overview.

Additionally, the Produce Safety Alliance lists all FSMA trainings offered in Nevada and around the US. Read about upcoming workshops in the state in Nevada Today.

If you are new to the requirements outlined in FSMA, check out these informational sheets to get the ball rolling:

FSMA FAQs – Nevada Department of Agriculture

FSMA Farm Exemptions

Current Projects on our Farm

Winter Field Lettuce

In 2016 we received a Specialty Crop Block grant from the Nevada Department of Agriculture to trial different field production methods for producing Salanova varieties of lettuce throughout the winter months.  We are currently growing lettuce as heads and loose-leaf cut lettuce under row cover and without row cover, and in hoop houses for comparison.  Stayed tuned for results.

Research and Demonstration Vineyard

In the Summer of 2018, we began revitalization efforts on our vineyard that had originally been used in UNR viticulture academic course programming and research.

Past Projects

Raspberry Trials
Working with the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and Northern Nevada farmers, this project dedicated one hoop house to raspberry production at the Agriculture Experiment Station Valley Road site for two years. The DFI planted multiple varieties of raspberries, and monitored their performance.  All information on varietal selection, planting techniques, pruning practices, time to maturity, and yield was recorded in order to create a online-to tool for growing in a hoop house. This project completed in 2017.

Cucumbers in Hoop Houses
In cooperation with the Specialty Crop Institute, the Desert Farming Initiative performed cucumber trials in a hoop house during the 2014 spring and summer season. We trialed two types of trellising systems with 3 different varieties.

Fall 2013: The first season at the High Desert Farming Initiative

The Farm

In addition to acting as a demonstration and research resource in Nevada, DFI operates a year round commercial farm.

Produce from the farm’s 8 hoop houses, greenhouse and fields is available to the public via the Great Basin Community Food Co-op DROPP and the Riverside Farmers Market. Campus dining facilities and restaurants in the Reno area serve up our produce throughout the year!

During the summer and fall growing season, DFI also runs a Farm Stand . We are proud to offer fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to the community while supporting university students.

Crops we are harvesting this winter: baby arugula, spring salad mix (red and green oak leaf), spicy salad mix (baby brassicas), several varieties of carrots, and french breakfast radishes. Enjoy!


The Desert Farming Initiative (DFI) began in 2013, and is in collaboration between the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), College of Agriculture, Biotechnology, and Natural Resources, Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station (NAES), and Cooperative Extension. The DFI is a diversified commercial farm at UNR which serves as a demonstration, education, outreach, and research farming program.  The program has two farm locations within NAES land, and is comprised of multiple hoop houses, greenhouses, and the capacity to produce 12 acres of row crops, and a 2-acre vineyard.  Currently there is a variety of fruits and vegetables grown for commercial sale to local wholesale and retail markets across the greater Reno area. The DFI supports student hands-on learning, UNR research, demonstration of desert crop production, and outreach to the agricultural industry.

Check out our mission statement, ways to work with us and the core team members that keeps it going.


Find our winter produce at the Riverside Farmers Market
Every Saturday 9am to 12pm - Riverside @ McKinley Arts Center in Reno. You'll find fresh produce from the DFI farm and local honey from...
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Propagating vegetable starts for NV growers and nurseries
Have a look at our flyer and order form to take advantage of this unique local service! DFI Seed Propagation FlyerDownload Seed Propogation Order Form_DFIDownload
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Food Safety Trainings for Nevada Growers
DFI and the Nevada Department of Agriculture are leading food safety trainings to assist growers with meeting the new federal regulations and guidance. See the...
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Celebrating Cesar Chavez
KOLO TV caught up with the Desert Farming Initiative on Cesar Chavez day of service where we hosted students at our farm on campus. In...
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Intern Interview: Kaitlin Woodburn
It is always fun to get to know the people behind the farm. Our interns are a big key to our overall success here at the Desert...
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Access Raspberry and Blackberry Tips From Your Home
“There’s an app for that,” is a phrase trademarked by Apple in 2010 as a comment on the diversity of the ever-growing sector of phone...
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“Sinfully Sweet” Nevada Melons Campaign Spotlights State Agriculture
RENO, Nev. (Aug. 29, 2017)—Desert Farming Initiative (DFI), part of the University of Nevada, Reno, has launched the Nevada Melons campaign to encourage economic development...
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DFI Produce Goes Digital
We are constantly testing ways to make farm products more accessible to the surrounding community. How do we create value and make it easier for people...
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