Local food production is one of the most important elements of a sustainable community. Since we are situated in the Mojave Desert, most of our food is grown elsewhere and that needs to change. Fortunately, the local food movement is well underway and gaining momentum!
Local Food Movement in Las Vegas
Green Our Planet
Ciara Byrne and Kim McQuarrie started Green Our Planet, a non-profit an educational and funding platform focused on green projects. Their hard work and dedication has led to the establishment of over sixty school gardens in Clark County. Thousands of kids now enjoy learning in outdoor settings while growing local food. Some even participate in their own farmer’s markets! Be sure to read their School Spotlights to get an idea of just how effective this program is.
Taking is a step further, a group of teachers teamed up with local horticultural experts from Garden Farms to adapt math and science curricula so the lessons can be taught in outdoor teaching gardens. The Hands-On STEM Curricula K-5 is now available online at Lessons.GreenOurPlanet.org.
Great Basin Permaculture
Another great group, Great Basin Permaculture, is a non-profit organization founded by Peter Frigeri, Jessica Penrod, and Tiffany Whisenant. They have a working demonstration garden that illustrates the concepts of permaculture, especially adapted to our desert environment.
I love their vision statement:
A sustainable Las Vegas is flexible and dynamic, complementing the rhythm of the city with the cycles of the surrounding Mojave Desert. Just like the indigenous people that lived in the Vegas valley, we cultivate life in the desert by harvesting and conserving our most precious resource, water. Sustainable Las Vegans embrace the resources that are abundant, like sunshine and edible native plants, and adapt to create new patterns of behavior that contribute to a lively and resourceful culture.”
Great Basin Permaculture Vision Statement
Great Basin Permaculture produces some worthy educational and networking events. The most recent was the 4th Annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast. They harvested bean pods from mesquite trees growing all over the Las Vegas valley. The beans were ground into flour and used to make some of the most delicious pancakes you’ve ever laid a lip over! They were enhanced with locally-made toppings including my favorite: Prickly Pear syrup. Mmmm-mmmm good!
Everyone enjoyed sharing the great food, live music and lots of stimulating conversation about the exciting possibilities for creating a more sustainable, resilient local community.
Vegas Roots Community Garden
The event was held at the permaculture demonstration garden located within the Vegas Roots Community Garden. The garden is a non-profit facility run by Rosalind Brooks, a remarkable woman with a great vision: To produce fresh food, build young leaders, create neighborhood connectedness and opportunities for contribution, and promote healthy bodies and minds. Based on my experience there, she is succeeding! There are ongoing cultural and educational events so be sure to view the schedule on their website frequently.
Local Food Movement and Urban Agriculture
One more organization to check out is the Food Hub Strategists for Clark County, a group of local citizens including the energetic Rick Passo, focusing on the awareness and adoption of urban agriculture. It’s a great source of information and ideas about local food production. The possibilities are very exciting and especially suited to meet the unique challenges of our desert environment.
If you live in an apartment but wish you could have you own garden, check out the KickStarter campaign for the new Garden Tower – Powering a Fresh Food Revolution. It looks like a brilliant design that provides a way to grow a significant amount of fresh, organic food in a very small space. It incorporates composting, vermiculture, and water recycling in a compact system that can be used almost anywhere.
Whether you surround your home with an edible landscape, grow veggies in the garden or want to learn more about getting involved in the many options available, I encourage you to check out each of these organizations and the people behind them. They are part of the growing local food movement in Southern Nevada, an essential part of the sustainability puzzle. More and more pieces are fitting together thanks to them.