Location, Facilities & Supplies

DFI has two farm sites: approximately 8 acres in Reno (Valley Road) and 11 acres in Sparks (Main Station). Our Valley Road site includes 8 hoop houses, 2 greenhouses, a commercial wash station, storage facilities, 4 acres of fields and a 2-acre vineyard. The Main Station site is dedicated to row crops and includes a storage facility. Desert Farming Initiative addresses:

Office location and Valley Road farm site:
920 Valley Road, Reno, NV 89557
39°32’29”N; 119°48’33”W

Main Station farm site: NOT IN USE
5895 Clean Water Way, Sparks, NV 89431
39°30’48”N; 119°44’38”W

DFI Mailing address: 1664 N. Virginia St. Reno, NV 89557

DFI Valley Road Site – 920 Valley Road Reno, NV 89557

This site is primarily flat; stormwater drainage from this site is generally to the south/southeast. Surrounding land uses are indicated in the photo below: agricultural uses to the north (including livestock facilities and research plots), agricultural greenhouses to the south, office and educational buildings and parking to the west and North Wells Avenue to the east. UNR livestock facilities are located directly to the west and north of Fields 2 and 3 (4 acres) at the north end of the Valley Road site. The entirety of the site was in alfalfa production 2003-2005 and has been managed by DFI for annual and perennial crops since then. Hoop houses were constructed in 2014.

DFI Main Station Site - 5895 Clean Water Way, Sparks, NV 8943 – NOT IN USE

The site varies in elevation, with stormwater draining primarily to the center of the site (west border of field) and then to the south or to the north and then east along Clean Water Way. The site is surrounded by agricultural land uses associated with UNR (primarily alfalfa production and livestock) and is bordered by Veterans Parkway on the east. ‘Dairy Hill’ agricultural facilities are adjacent to the site on the west. The site was previously in alfalfa and hay production or fallow, before being managed for row crops by DFI.

DFI Facilities

Valley Road Facilities

DFI Wash and Pack House – 920 Valley Road Reno, NV 89557

The DFI Wash and Pack House was constructed in 2014 and is used for all produce washing, packing and storage activities. Below is a diagram of the facility, including the general flow of work.

Diagram will be updated soon

DFI Equipment and Supplies

DFI tools, equipment and supplies are stored in and around the Wash House, locked storage containers (in front of the NAES greenhouses), in the storage shed at Main Station and in the joint NAES equipment storage garages. Equipment for handling cleaning, sanitation and agricultural chemicals are clearly labeled and used exclusively for those materials. All tools and equipment are maintained according to the Pre-Harvest Risk Management and Wash House Cleaning procedures (see Part 3 of this Plan).


Only individuals with a Pesticide Applicators License may apply regulated substances on the farm. Non-regulated chemicals are only applied by trained individuals. All workers will be instructed in using the Chemical Safety binder in the Wash House as part of their Health and Hygiene Training. Staff handling pesticides will receive pesticide safety training according to Pesticide Safety Training procedures.

All refueling takes place away from produce fields/hoop houses to minimize the risk of petroleum contamination. If any chemicals are spilled in the field, immediate action is taken to control the leak/spill source. Any contaminated soil is removed from the ground and contained. Spills and corrective actions are immediately documented in an email to farm management, including illustrations or diagrams to show the contaminated area, excavation area, and waste removal.


Crops grown at DFI include:

  • Swiss chard
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Radish
  • Turnip
  • Head lettuce
  • Baby greens
  • Cabbage
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Tomato
  • Pepper
  • Eggplant
  • Herbs
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Pumpkin
  • Winter squash
  • Melon
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

DFI’s producer certificate is updated annually in March and signed by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.

DFI crops are not commercially processed. The average produce sales during the previous 3-year period (2017-2019) at DFI exceeds $25,000. Financial records are maintained in the 1-8 DFI office to demonstrate this (see Part 4 of this Plan). All DFI produce is sold within 275 miles of the farm, however covered produce is periodically sold out of state (Tahoe Food Hub, Truckee, CA).

DFI also operates as a demonstration farm for food safety practices and is preparing for expansion. Food safety is a priority on this farm. In partnership with the Nevada Department of Agriculture, farm staff are trained and available to assist other growers and distributors in the region with food safety planning.


Production areas and crops are identified by hoop house/field number and lot in our Harvest Log and Transport and Traceability Log (see Part 3 of this Plan). This combination of logs enables produce to be traced back to their source in the event of a food safety recall. The logs are completed and reviewed by managers on a regular schedule. Specifically, this system allows produce to be traced one step back in the field and one step forward to our distributor. The following information is recorded and included in labeling to allow for product tracking.

Harvest and traceability information recorded includes:

  • Lot number
  • Date of harvest
  • Hoop house/field where produce was harvested
  • Crop/variety
  • Quantity harvested
  • Quantity distributed/delivered
  • Customer
  • Staff responsible

All produce packed for sale is assigned a lot number and labeled prior to storage/delivery:

  • Farm name and physical address
  • Lot number
  • Crop/variety
  • Washing instructions
  • Date harvested
  • Date packed
  • Buyer (when known)

To test our traceability process, a mock recall of a produce delivery is conducted each year. In the mock recall, we contact one of our buyers, identify a shipment received from us, and track how much of the product has been sold and how much is still in inventory. This information is linked to the DFI Harvest Log and Transport and Traceability Log by lot number and recorded in the Mock Recall Log.

Health & Hygiene

Workers’ health and actions directly impact the safety of fruits and vegetables they harvest and pack. If workers are sick, do not wash their hands properly, or are not aware of food safety risks and practices that reduce risks, they could contaminate fresh produce while they work. The farm sites are accessed by trained workers only or according to the policies defined below.

Employee Training

All employees, interns and volunteers receive health and hygiene training when they start working on the farm as well as ongoing refresher courses. Training includes instruction on all company policies related to worker health and hygiene and, where appropriate, job specific training as required by law (i.e. pesticide applicator license or training). Training is conducted according to the procedures for Health and Hygiene Training and then the Health and Hygiene Policy is signed when training is complete.

All employees, interns and volunteers receive food safety training from a Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) certified trainer at the start of work on the farm as well as ongoing refresher courses. All those involved in any processes relating to the growth, harvest, washing, storage and transportation of our crops receive this training. Training includes instruction on all company policies related to food safety; each employee training is documented in the Employee Training Form.

Visitor and Volunteer Rules

Visitors are defined as anyone on the farm to be involved in farm processes as it relates to crops grown on site. All visitors will read the Visitor Policies and sign in and out on the Visitor Sign In Log located in the wash house at Valley Road. The policies and log are in the possession of farm management at Main Station. Abbreviated farm rules and visitor policies are also posted at the entrance of the farm.

Long-term volunteers are not required to sign in and out each day. They sign the Employee Health and Hygiene Policy and complete the UNR Volunteer Packet (if applicable – depending on the length of their assignment). All signed policies and logs are managed by Education Program Manager.

Handwashing and Toilet Facilities

All visitors, volunteers and employees wash their hands according to the DFI Health and Hygiene Policies. Clean and well-maintained toilet and handwashing facilities are provided for all employees and visitors in the Knudsen Resource Center and NAES greenhouse facility at Valley Road, and in the Dairy Hill facilities at Main Station (all less than ¼ mile from work areas). Signs are posted in restrooms to instruct employees to wash their hands before returning to work. All toilet/restroom facilities are properly supplied with single-use towels.

These facilities are checked on a daily basis by UNR Facilities Maintenance (775-784- 8020, website link here). Restroom facilities are serviced, restocked and cleaned each afternoon.

In the event that temporary sanitation facilities (Sani cans) are used in the field, they are located and managed in a manner that minimizes the risk of produce contamination. In the case of a Sani can spillage occurs in or near field boundaries, the following clean-up steps are performed:

  1. Any affected produce is immediately disposed of in a covered waste bin.
  2. The contaminated area will be marked off with caution tape or string with an added 10 foot barrier.
  3. Signs in appropriate languages will be posted at the perimeter prohibiting entry to the contaminated area.
  4. People and animals will be kept out until the area is sufficiently decontaminated.
  5. Any solid waste still resting on the surface will be collected and removed to the waste bin.
  6. Any affected permanent structures will be hosed off and disinfected with a diluted bleach solution.
  7. The sanitation unit will be cleaned and replaced by the company providing the units and maintenance services.
  8. Spills and corrective actions are documented.

Illness and Injuries


First aid kits and manuals are available for use in the Valley Road Wash House, in the DFI Suburban trunk compartment and in the Main Station storage shed. The supplies are checked and updated quarterly and as needed and recorded in the First Aid Kit Log. 

All visitors and employees are to deal with injuries immediately. Employees must notify the farm management and fill out an Illness/Injury Report. If the injury is critical or life threatening, 911 will be called for proper care. In the event of an accident with UNR vehicles, a UNR Vehicle Accident Form will be completed.

If blood or other bodily fluid should come in contact with produce or in the field, immediate action is taken and farm management is notified. After assuring the safety of those involved, farm management will immediately inspect the area where the injury occurred. All contaminated surfaces will be removed to a plastic bag with a shovel/gloved hands and discarded. All affected plant materials, produce and packing materials will be discarded in the dumpster located at the NAES entrance. Soil and produce will be cleared 2 feet in every direction to ensure there is no further contamination. Affected tools and surfaces of structures will be cleaned with soap and water and sanitized.


Any employee who is sick notifies farm management immediately and does not handle crops/produce. The following symptoms prohibit an employee from working and handling fresh produce:

  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Jaundice (when the whites of the eyes are yellowish and the skin has a yellowish tinge)
  • Sore throat with fever
  • Lesions (including boils or infected wounds, however small) on the hand, wrist, or any exposed body part

If any of these symptoms are present, the employee, volunteer or visitor will leave the premise and these conditions are recorded in an Illness/Injury Report.

Moe, J. 2021, DFI Food Safety Plan - Part 1: Farm Location, Facilities, and Management, Desert Farming Initiative, University of Nevada, Reno

Learn more about the author(s)


Also of Interest:

Detecting Multiwall Carbon Nanotube Uptake and Translocation in Lettuce to Enhance Food Safety Assessment.
Reclaiming Water for Urban Foodsheds integrates basic scientific research with extension outreach to examine the feasibility of using reclaimed water resources for irrigated agriculture in urban environments.
Yang, Y., Das, K., Barrios-Masias., F., and Singletary, L. 2018, Extension I University of Nevada, Reno, FS-18-03.
Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GHPs): A Framework for Minimizing On-Farm Food Safety Hazards
Approximately 48 million people in the United States get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases each year (CDC, 2011). Produce has continued to be implicated in major foodborne illness outbreaks in recent years.
Urbanowitz, S. 2013, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Food Safety Tips for Nevada Child Caregivers
This publication will help you to learn more about what caregivers should look for during the preparation of food to prevent foodborne illness.
Omaye, S. and Wilson, M. 2007, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno, FS-07-28
Harvesting lettuce
Team YHEP Presents: Hydroponics Harvest and Donations
Team YHEP shows you how we harvest and package our hydroponic produce for donation to our food pantry partners throughout Las Vegas!
O'Callaghan, A., Braxton-Perry, T., Hansen, N., and Ford-Terry, I., 2020, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, YouTube Channel

Associated Programs


Food Safety Program

The Initiative's Food Safety Program provides services and resources for growers throughout the state of Nevada. The Initiative partners with the Nevada Department of Agriculture to demonstrate produce safety practices, share guidance and provide training.