Searchlight Fights Local Food Insecurity Together with Rural Partners Network 

Ladies from Searchlight Town Board

(from left to right): Devon Tilman, Master Gardener, UNR Extension; Kayla McInnis, Searchlight Town Board; Kelly Lehr, Southern Clark County Program Coordinator, UNR Extension. 


What do you do when the place you live in doesn’t have a single grocery store? 


For the town of Searchlight, Nevada, the answer was to have a Community Network meeting. 


With a population of 445 in 2020, Searchlight residents recognized that the community was not substantial enough to support a grocery store. Farmers’ markets wouldn’t get the necessary traffic from Las Vegas or Boulder City to compel local vendors to travel to Searchlight on a regular basis. 


So, through the Searchlight Community Network meeting facilitated by Rural Partners Network Community Liaison Elias Askins, the town board and residents jointly decided to establish a community garden. The town believes the community garden will rekindle the camaraderie between neighbors and also provide some benefit to the residents are struggle with food insecurity. 


In the Searchlight Community Garden Group’s second meeting, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) Extension Service Community Coordinator Kelly Lehr introduced Master Gardener Devon Tilman to the project. Cost estimates for supplies and equipment were discussed, and Community Liaison Askins discussed funding possibilities, such as the T-Mobile Hometown Grant Program and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program (CFPCGP). 


Askins also discussed strategic future plans for the project, including personnel to apply as representatives, and assessed grant-writing experience within the group.  


“For the town of Searchlight, the availability of healthy food, some physical activity, and most importantly, the increased sense of community is beyond measure,” Askins said.  “With a little luck, and a lot of hard work, I believe the Searchlight Community Garden can be a model for both rural and urban communities across Nevada.” 


“The University of Nevada Reno Extension is excited to partner with the town of Searchlight in creating a true community garden,” Kelly Lehr said. “This community garden will provide opportunities for not only fresh vegetables for the senior center, the elementary school and the overall township, but also encourage a new social setting, provide horticulture and healthy living learning opportunities, and create multi-generational conversations and events centered around growth, green initiatives, and sustainability for the future.” 

And for the town of Searchlight, the future is bright. 

Community Development

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