More than 10,000 people have joined a popular campaign on Change.org asking the Reno City Council and University of Nevada officials to save one of the only university-owned farms in the U.S. from commercial development.
Wendy Baroli, a Reno-based farmer, launched the campaign on Change.org after a Reno Planning Commission approved a request from the University of Nevada Board of Regents to rezone a section of the farm for commercial development.
If approved, a 104-acre section of the Main Station Farm will be sold off to make way for commercial businesses and other development projects, threatening a large part of the university's ongoing farm program that has become highly popular with local producers in Nevada.
Budget woes at the University of Nevada-Reno have led to efforts to cut back on agricultural facilities of late. In 2010 the institution launched an effort to shut down its ag school and shift farming subjects into other colleges. That effort was halted by a similar show of protest from the farming community.
The closure was avoided largely due to objections from the farming community near Reno, which is the only intense agricultural region in Nevada, known for its hay and onion crops, as well as a strong livestock industry.
"I can't imagine a more important mission for a university to have than educating new farmers for food safety, and a strong economic future," says Baroli. "The university's farm is used to teach hands-on small farm and ranching skills to be used in the new food economy."
After the Reno Planning Commission voted in favor of the University Board of Regents' request to rezone part of the farm for commercial development, City Council member Jessica Sferazza (cq) filed an appeal, and Baroli launched her campaign.
Farming advocates fear that destroying one section of the farm would set a dangerous precedent to commercially develop other parcels of the Main Station Farm, one of the last open green spaces in the city of Reno.
For more information on Change.org go to http://www.change.org/about.