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Extension office programs provide learning at all levels

Educating the public is the main goal of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) through hands-on classes, training programs, information seminars and video-conferenced presentations. The list of subject matter is almost endless when it comes to gardening, food preservation, consultations with commercial growers, pruning trees and landscaping.

There are presentations on brain health, Alzheimer’s and dementia held at Inspirations Senior Living. Garden and landscape tours are also a part of the events.

Although the summer season is winding down, the UNCE Master Gardeners are busy harvesting for the Farmer’s Markets held Tuesday mornings at Star Nursery and Saturday mornings at Home Depot. Anyone may sell produce or handmade crafts for a $7 fee per day.

Master Gardener Program Coordinator Debby Woodland said, “UNCE’s programs are federally funded, but the master gardeners’ projects do not all come from federal money. We have an allotted budget to work with and when it runs out, we have to get creative.”

Woodland hinted at a project which would make the farmer’s market mobile. “It would be so great if we could reach the outlying communities with fresh produce. At least when you buy from a master gardener, you know what you’re eating. It hasn’t been treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.”

The growing season is far from over. Master gardener Claudia Fetcho recently planted seeds for fall crops such as lettuces and spinach. Woodland said, “Claudia is a new master gardener and is putting her certification to work out here.” The group has built a frame, installed a shade cloth and cares for the vegetables planted in the 20 x 40 space.

UNCE teaches the master gardener classes, too.

Woodland just finished teaching a series of food preservation classes and said, “We had a waiting list to get in.”

Another food preservation series won’t be until October but Woodland said there will be a pickling class, one class for dehydrating produce and herbs, and classes on making jams and jellies, and a canning class for using a hot-water-bath canner.

“Only two of us in Nevada are certified to teach canning classes. We’ve been invited to the co-op in Logandale to teach classes there,” Woodland said. The methods are within the guidelines of the federal laws governing the cottage industry.

“I have copies of those laws for anyone making food for sale,” Woodland said.

Woodland said the co-op is launching another set of “Grow Your Own Nevada” classes beginning Sept. 9. The classes will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sept. 25.

The classes will cover designing a water-efficient landscape, preparing soils for planting, how to pick the right plants for this area and care of landscape plants.

Also covered are healthy lawns and how to manage pests in the landscape.

Each class will be $10, or participants may sign-up for all six classes for $50.

“These and the food preservation classes are extremely popular. We only have room for a limited number of people,” Woodland said. “My advice is to sign up early.”

A free class on Collaborative High Desert Farming Initiative for agriculture producers will be held at the extension offices here.

More farmers are looking for ways to extend the growing season. The presentation will address field-tested methods for extending the growing season, as well as information on reducing risk, low-cost marketing and financial planning. The course will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sept. 12.

Season-extension farming, using hoop houses, row covers or other methods, has gained interest over the past few years as a way for Nevada farmers to provide customers with locally grown produce earlier and later, and to help farmers increase their incomes.

Jennifer Ott, project manager for the initiative, said, “This class aims to give agricultural producers the information they need if they are looking to add season-extending methods to their operations.”

The course will be taught by George Kleeb and Ben Tedore of the Nevada Small Business Development Center, part of the University’s College of Business, and by Rick Lattin of Lattin Farms.

No materials are required but it is recommended to bring a lunch. Pre-registration at www.highdesertfarming.org/projects is required.

The class will cover avoiding risky business mistakes and loan programs designed for the agricultural industry. The instructors will go over online marketing tools that are either low cost or free to use, and will include farm planning, hoop house techniques and selling produce to customers.

Woodland and 4-H Director Pam Gatling secured UNCE’s usual spot at the tennis courts on Tuesday for the upcoming Fall Festival.

Gatling said the 4-H will have its usual animals out “for short periods. It depends on how hot it is but the kids’ craft demonstrations will be going on.”

The Giant Pumpkin and Squash Contest is already drawing applications. The contest is open to all residents of Nye and Clark counties and participants may be asked to verify in writing where the vegetable was grown.

There are two age categories and contestants may only enter one category. One is for gardeners 18 and under and the second category is for those 19 and above.

The deadline for entry is 5 p.m., Sept. 27. Rules and applications are available at UNCE, 1651 E. Calvada Blvd.

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