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New farming facility coming to Las Vegas' Historic Westside

After a substantial donation from MGM Resorts
Posted at 8:44 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 23:46:31-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas’ Historic Westside is about to become the first neighborhood in the city to have a community-based urban agriculture farming facility of this nature thanks to a $500,000 philanthropic contribution from MGM Resorts International to the city of Las Vegas, via the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE and its fiscal agent, Nevada Community Foundation, Inc.

The Historic Westside Farming Facility will establish a new, local food source in the Historic Westside in the city of Las Vegas. This facility will serve to tackle food insecurity rates in the neighborhood while addressing unemployment and building community wealth. The Historic Westside community has consistently struggled with reliable access to healthy food. As a food desert, Historic Westside residents experience 25.5% food insecurity – the highest in the Las Vegas Valley.

“The city of Las Vegas is committed to bringing unique solutions, whenever possible, to challenges that may face communities,” Mayor Carolyn G. Goodman said. “This partnership will not only revitalize a currently unused public space and transform it into a farming facility providing healthy food, but it will also serve as a model for replication in other parts of the community.”

“This investment by MGM in the Historic Westside demonstrates the company’s commitment to our community, and to addressing long-standing challenges unique to this neighborhood by investing in creative solutions,” said Ward 5 Councilman Cedric Crear. “I applaud MGM’s involvement in making this important project a reality. The legacy this will have will shape not only the Historic Westside in a positive way, but has the potential to be a model that can be replicated citywide, and across the country.”

The Historic Westside Farming Facility will be located within James Gay Park in the Historic Westside. The city of Las Vegas will use the funding from MGM to acquire two ready-built, plug-and-play container growing facilities. The pre-built 40-foot shipping containers (manufactured by Freight Farms in Boston) are climate-controlled and can operate year-round, providing approximately 320 square feet of vertical growing space, and producing the output of nearly 3.5 acres of flat farming each, or 8 tons of produce. The containers provide diversified crop production capability – their systems can grow lettuce, leafy greens, herbs, vining berries and vegetables, root vegetables and flowers, allowing the community to grow produce that is needed and desired by its residents. Once the container operations are launched, they provide their first harvestable crops within eight weeks.

“The iconic Las Vegas Strip would not be what it is today without the Historic Westside Community,” said MGM Resorts CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle. “We are honored to join our neighbors in developing this farming facility that will have a positive and direct impact for those who are currently food insecure. At MGM Resorts we take seriously our commitment to invest in our communities, and we believe that we are all better off when we unite with one another for the common good. We are grateful for the entities who together have turned this innovative idea into a reality and look forward to the produce that will be readily available for Historic Westside families and individuals to harvest in 2022.”

The containers are anticipated to be placed and operational by early 2022. While the immediate focus would be to provide produce to support the community, excess produce would be available for sale to the public and community partners to help support the ongoing operations of the facilities, which would be operated by a community-based organization. All revenues generated would be reinvested to the growing operations and supporting facilities in the Historic Westside.

The facility will also build community by providing a much-needed neighborhood hub, and will celebrate community through trainings, programming and events that inform, educate and celebrate cultural food traditions as well.

The impetus for this project was the HUNDRED Plan (created in 2016), which outlined a number of desired programs and projects for the Historic Westside utilizing the input of more than 250 residents of the neighborhood over the course of a year. The need to address food insecurity as well as high unemployment levels rose to the top as two of the most critical needs to be addressed. Those elements were prioritized in the implementation strategy for the HUNDRED Plan – the HUNDRED Plan in Action (completed in July 2020). The city has been working with community partners to identify funding to implement this project since that time.