PLEASE NOTE: This blog post features an event that has already passed.


From the business skill sets needed to be a modern farmer, to Nevada's newest, and perhaps most controversial, cash crop, the Nevada Economic Development Conference is offering a unique behind-the-scene's glimpse at our local agribusiness economy. 

Edible Communities is a media sponsor for the Agribusiness track for the fourth annual event presented by the Western Nevada Development District that will take place Aug-20-22 at the Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa in Reno, Nevada. Registration and information is available at

The agribusiness sessions will let you meet some of the creative minds that are necessary to solve our growing need for sustainable and affordable food sources, a topic we addressed in this summer's edible Reno-Tahoe magazine.  



Here is a quick rundown on the sessions and some of the speakers: 

Smart Agriculture and Climate Change

More drought and more flooding, and spottier water storage, are just some of the climate challenges facing Nevada’s agriculture industry. Farmers must reevaluate what are the cash crops to grow and methods to ensure the greatest yield. Panelists will discuss available research and the practices farmers can consider to modernize and diversify in the new climate reality.

One of this track's speakers, Dr. William “Bill” Payne, is Dean of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Payne moved to Reno from Ethiopia, where he worked with the International Center for Agricultural Research for the Dry Areas as Director of a $150 million research program aimed at improving food security and livelihoods in the dry areas of the world. This panel will address improving plant drought tolerance and water-use efficiency, biofuels, food security, climate change, and sustainability of agricultural systems. 

Agrihood 2.0

Agrihoods can be found in rural, suburban, and urban spaces. They are primarily known as a working farm or ranch that is connected to a community neighborhood. The Urban Land Institute defines an Agrihood as a single-family, multi-family, or mixed-use community built with a working farm and/or ranch as a focus. This session will present information on a recently approved Agrihood development to be located in Douglas County at Corley Ranch, The Farmstead, as well as other Agrihood developments that have sprung up around the United States. The processes, challenges, and successes of the Agrihood will be discussed as well as how the Agrihood benefits the entire community. 

Will Nevada’s Cannabis Industry Keep Rolling?

Nevada’s fledgling cannabis industry has permeated the economy from high-tech farming and housing values, to higher than expected tax revenues and job generation. The past, present, and future of Nevada’s newest cash crop is explored by a panel of early adopters to the marijuana/cannabis market along with the regulators and policy makers who oversee the budding industry.

One of the topics this group will touch on is industrial hemp which is a source of fiber and high- protein oilseed grown in more than 30 nations. In the United States, production is controlled under drug enforcement laws. Panelists include Russell Wilhelm, Seed Program Manager, Nevada Department of Agriculture. In 2016, he was nominated to manage the state’s industrial hemp program, in conjunction with seed certification. Russ has been coordinating with producers since the emergence of the program and has had a heavy hand in developing the success of the hemp industry within the state of Nevada.

Is Farming Your Next Meal Ticket?

The “simple” life of farming is not so simple. Starting a farm is complicated, from finding land and water, securing financing, assessing your skill sets, writing a business plan, and finding your market niche that will support you and your farm.

Rick Lattin, Managing Partner, Lattin Farms LLC and Consultant, Churchill Economic Development Authority in Fallon, is one of the speakers on this panel. Along with his wife B., they are the proud owners of Lattin Farms, a 105-year old, 400-acre farm in Fallon, Nev. that has been producing organic food in the region since 1977. The farm produces tomatoes, cucumbers, melons (Heart of Gold!), peppers, and has been serving both farmer’s markets and community supported agricultural customers in the region for more than 25 years. Rick is fully engaged in agri-tourism and the local foods movement and efforts to educate kids that there are still farmers in the world!

This panel's local experts will help fledgling farmers plant the seeds of success.


For details about this session and many other sessions on topics revealing the new Nevada economy, register at

Tracks for the Nevada Economic Development Conference Tuesday, Aug. 21 and Wednesday, Aug. 22, include Agribusiness, Economic Development, Manufacturing, Transportation/Infrastructure, and Workforce Development. The $200 cost includes opening sessions, lunch with keynote speakers, and Exhibit Hall Reception. A one-day conference pass is $150.

A Pre-Conference Tour and workshop, Connecting Nevada to the Global Economy, on Aug. 20 will visit the SWITCH facility located at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. A separate registration fee of $100 will be charged for this portion of the conference, which includes lunch and transportation.

Nevada Economic Development Conference highlights suburban neighborhood trend.

Courtesy of Nevada Economic Development Conference


Will community gardens supplant the clubhouse? Will fairway views fade into farmscapes, and the fast-rolling greens of the golf course become rows of kale, cabbage, and spinach?


In the late 1990s and early 2000s, new housing in Northern Nevada almost required that there be a golf course winding amid the homes.


But in recent years, many millennials, baby boomers, and retirees are seeking out neighborhoods that have more direct relationships to the land and to local food as urban landscapes turn into fresh-food deserts. An increasingly popular subdivision design called an agrihood is helping to fulfill this desire to connect more closely with community, nature, and our food supply.


The Fourth Annual Nevada Economic Development Conference set for Aug. 20-22, 2018 at the Atlantis Casino & Resort in Reno, and edible Reno-Tahoe magazine is a media sponsor for the event. This year’s conference will feature a presentation entitled Agrihoods 2.0 as part of its popular Agribusiness sessions. It will highlight the Corley Ranch in Douglas County as well as other agrihood developments that have sprung up around the United States.


Changes in the ’hood

Loosely defined by the Urban Land Institute as master-planned housing communities with working farms as their focus, many agrihoods offer ample green space, barns, outdoor kitchens, and farm-to-table restaurants.


Session speaker Jeff Birkby, who has managed sustainable agriculture and community development projects for nonprofit organizations and state and federal government agencies, says there is pent-up demand to develop food sources closer to our kitchen tables.


INSERT PHOTO: Birkbyphoto (*Can we put this photo small, to the left of the “Changes in the hood” first paragraph, as opposed to all by itself?)

CAPTION: Jeff Birkby


"We are beginning to see in-fill agrihoods that are turning blighted areas of cities, such as Detroit, into vibrant and desirable communities," Birkby says. "This next phase of agrihood development looks to transform abandoned urban centers, using existing city property, instead of developing housing around pristine land outside of city limits."


The Urban Land Institute estimates that, as of 2014, there were more than 200 agrihoods either developed or in the planning stages in the United States.


Agrihoods 2.0 session speaker Mark Neuffer, principal of Alta Consulting in San Jose, Calif., is developing Farmstead at Corley Ranch as one of those. Adjacent to what already is a working ranch, the proposed 250 homes will offer nearby amenities such as a community garden, greenhouse, and orchard.


INSERT PHOTO: mark-nueffer (Same placement as Birkby, to the left of the paragraph above)

CAPTION: Mark Nueffer


Neuffer, who has successfully developed numerous housing projects in the Sparks area, cites the Rancho Mission Viejo project in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., as a model for the Farmstead at Corley Ranch. There, residents have access to communal farms with orchards and workshop space, raised planters, in-ground crops, fruit trees, and community events featuring area farmers lending a hand in the communal gardens.


"I think this is a more meaningful housing product," Neuffer says. "The golf course housing project doesn't articulate what today's home buyer is looking for."


Plus, agrihoods offer developers a lower cost for amenities, Birkby says


"These costs, though significant, can be less than one-fifth of the costs of developing and maintaining a professionally designed golf course. And the consumer demand for housing in new agrihoods is tremendous," he says.


Rancho Mission Viejo already is developing its second agrihood housing development, and agrihoods are popping up from Florida to Hawaii. In Davis, Calif., a 100-acre development called The Cannery is built around a working farm that will sell to local restaurants and grocers. The agrihood is built on the site of a former Hunt-Wesson tomato cannery — an excellent example of repurposing an industrial site, Birkby notes.


INSERT PHOTO: cannerydavis (size can be full, but not huge)

CAPTION: The Cannery in Davis is an operating agrihood


Agrihoods 2.0 also will feature Jack Jacobs, owner and manager of Jacobs Family Berry Farm. His recent Carson Valley agricultural activities have included 2018 Conservation Award for work to advance agriculture in Douglas County-Carson Valley.


INSERT PHOTO: Jack-Jacobs (*Note: Same placement and sizing as other head shots, please, next to the paragraph above)

CAPTION: Jack Jacobs


This trio will present the processes, challenges, and successes of the agrihood, as well as how the agrihood can benefit the entire community.


For details about this session and many other sessions on topics revealing the new Nevada economy, or to register, visit


Nevada Economic Development Conference

Tues., Aug. 21 and Wed., Aug. 22, 2018

Tracks include: Agribusiness, Economic Development, Manufacturing, Transportation/Infrastructure and Workforce Development.

The cost ($175 before July 6; $200 after July 6) includes opening sessions, lunch with keynote speakers, and exhibit hall reception. A one-day conference pass is $125 ($150 after July 6).


A pre-conference tour and workshop, Connecting Nevada to the Global Economy, on Aug. 20 will visit the SWITCH facility located at the Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center. A separate registration fee of $75 will be charged for this portion of the conference ($100 after July 6), which includes lunch and transportation.

This event is recognized by the International Economic Development Council as a professional development event that counts toward the recertification of Certified Economic Developers.