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According to  the Washington Post, A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm. 

For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture. Sixty-nine percent of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees — significantly higher than the general population.

One of New Jersey’s biggest challenges in farming has been the aging of our farmers with a significant majority over the age of 55. This article raises some interesting issues about transitions to a new agricultural demographic and the speculative possibility (for NJ) of a statewide food shed or food system organized around small farm holdings such as the three acre farm tilled by Liz Whitehurst that is profiled in the article.

The cost of land in NJ remains prohibitive  however for young farmers.

Whitehurst leases a 3 acre farm in Upper Marlboro Maryland and her primary market is Washington D.C. Hudson Valley serve NYC farmers markets and restaurants.

What is needed in NJ is a concerted effort to define a NJ Foodshed that serves NJ, Philly, and NYC  markets.

We would simply be reclaiming a historical legacy in our state by emphasizing an integrated statewide foodshed that serves local and regional markets.

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The NJ Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed a joint resolution designating the first full day of spring each year as New Jersey Agriculture Day.

Bill Numbers: AJR85SJR72

Current List of NJ Assembly, Agriculture, Farmland Preservation, and Food Bills

Agriculture

Farmland Preservation

Food

General News

Exploring the Small Farm Dream: The Northeastern Organic Farmers Association’s NJ Chapter hosts weekly workshops in March on the ownership and operation of organic farms in NJ. Workshops will be held on March 7th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton.

Northwestern New Jersey farmers prepare for summer markets with spring plantings

Stephen Komar discusses the importance of water quality to NJ Agriculture

Rutgers County Extension Specialist Andrew Wyenandt received a distinguished service award at the annual NJ Agriculture Convention.

H/T to NOFA-NJ:

The Future of Food and Agriculture. Short YouTube video courtesy of the United Nation’s Food & Agriculture Organization.

2018 Farm Bill 

Politico: ‘Tis the beginning of farm bill season

An oldie but goodie from Representative Earl Blumenauer: Not just a farm bill, but a food bill – Let’s get it right

Civil Eats reports on a Foundation Roundtable on the 2018 Farm Bill.

The American Farm Bureau Federation Hosts a Resources Page on the 2018 Farm Bill

State Ag Leaders Focus on Food Safety in the 2018 Farm Bill

Early passage of Farm Bill in 2017 unlikely

 

 

 

Current List of Agricultural-Related Bills in the NJ Legislature 

With all eyes on Atlantic City , we can’t lose site of New Jersey’s $82 billion food and agricultural sectors.

Below are links to agricultural-bills currently before the NJ Legislature this session:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/bills/BillsByKeyword.asp

Farmers Markets

When do farmers’ markets start in N.J.? 135 options for summer 2016

Farmers Market Returning To Brick

Burlington County seniors eligible for farmers’ market vouchers

Hunterdon Land Trust celebrates Farmers’ Market’s 10th anniversary

Other Happenings 

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Program on Healthy Eating

Staying true to its land grant mission, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County participated in the Cape May County Healthcare Resource Day on April 23rd. Marilou Rochford, the extension’s Family and Community Health Sciences Educator spoke about Eating Better on a Budget. Rutgers cooperative extension is located in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties and provides a number of services designed to improve family and community health, and to support New Jersey’s food and agricultural systems and infrastructure.

H/T Cape May Herald.com

 

 

Farms and Farming for those Most in Need

Two articles this week pointing to the importance of New Jersey farming in providing access to fresh food for urban communities and for those in need in more suburban and rural areas.

New trustees named at Valley Crest Farm and Preserve

Robert J. Shanahan, Jr. an attorney from Flemington, and Mike Beneduce Jr., a fourth generation farmer and winemaker from Pittstown, have been named to the Board fof Trustees at the Valley Crest Preserve. The Valley Crest Preserve is a nonprofit that grows and provides fresh produce for people in need. Valley Crest Preserve is located in Lebanon NJ.

Urban Farming in NJ: A Vital Link in the New Jersey Foodshed

Michele Byers, Executive Director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation penned columns in the Hunterdon County Democrat  and The Daily Record about the importance of urban agriculture in New Jersey.

Urban agriculture and the repurposing of old industrial sites for agriculture and food processing has also been a key concern of NJ Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher as well.

Byers provides links to a number of key urban agricultural initiatives in Trenton, Newark, Camden, and Patterson:

Trenton 

Capital City Farm an initiative of the D&R Greenway Land Trust  is supported by Isles which is developing 30 community gardens around the City of Trenton. Capital City Farm will be located on two acres of land behind the Trenton Soup Kitchen.

Newark 

Greater Newark Conservancy supports two urban farms in Newark, including an orchard with 75 fruit trees.

AeroFarms is converting an old steel factory in Newark’s Ironbound section into a vertical farm that will provide fresh greens year-round.

Camden 

Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation operates the Emerald Street Garden which includes a greenhouse, chicken coop and bread oven. Community gardens operate in many abandoned lots throughout Camden. Camden’s agricultural landscape includes orchards as well as community gardens and urban farms.

Paterson

City Green operates in Paterson, Clifton, and Passaic. Projects include a one acre farm in Paterson and a five acre farm in Clifton. City Green is a good example of how to operate at a bioregional scale in a state dominated by home rule and fragmented jurisdictions.

It’s Farmers Market Time!

Farmers markets are starting to open across the state, usually in a south to north pattern. Here’s a quick rundown of those markets that made the press this week.

Cowtown Farmers Market in Pilesgrove NJ. It’s old school in that piles of fresh produce and fresh farm products from nearby farms are intermingled among rows and rows of flea market wares, bargain basement stuff, and antiques. Great way to spend a 1/2 day or so with the kids.

Brigantine Farmers Market in Brigantine NJ.

Shore Area Markets The Asbury Park Press provides a handy dandy guide to farmers markets in Monmouth and Ocean Counties this week. One of my favorite memories as a kid is driving to the beach with my grandparents and watching the fields and farms unfold. Pulling in at some roadside farmers stand and getting fresh sweet corn and tomatoes on the way home was always a treat.

While the roadside stands and roadside markets are fast disappearing along with many of our small roadside farms, NJ’s still abundant produce, fruit, and value-added products can be found at many of these farmers markets covered by  the APP.

 

 

 

Agriculture Secretary Doug Fisher works to ensure a Garden State for the future

NJ agriculture leader to retire, but stay connected to industry

Rebecca Byrne attends 4-H summit in Maryland

Pier Semanchik of Hackettstown High School Named the 2016 4-H New Jersey Equestrian of the Year

 

N.J. agriculture giant killed in tractor accident

Food Incubator in northern NJ could help keep farmers down on farm

Density, diversity are good news for N.J. farmers

Food markets sprouting in North Jersey

How to shop–and not to shop–at a farmers market

 

 

Have been absent for quite a while as I wrestled with a PhD program, my parents failing health, and field research on the aftermath of Sandy across the greater Metropolitan NYC area.

Lately, however, I have been thinking more and more about the NJ Food and Agriculture sector as I’ve been driving through what remains of the hinterlands of Monmouth County.

NJ Spotlight had a great article last week about the possible development of a food incubator in Northwest NJ as a way of managing remaining farmland in Sussex and Warren counties  and helping new and young farmers to get started and keep farming.

FOOD INCUBATOR IN NORTHERN NJ COULD HELP KEEP FARMERS DOWN ON FARM

The Foodshed Alliance  was incorporated in 2010 as a formal organization dedicated to preserving the rural food systems of Northwest New Jersey and increasing rural resiliency in these same areas. They’ve been operating since 2001.

I was happy to see this article by NJ Spotlight as I’ve been thinking a lot lately about NJ Food and Agricultural systems prompted by some recent visits to Minneapolis that started me wondering again about the feasibility of a NJ-Wide Food System study, similar to the Greater Philadelphia Food System Study commissioned by The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission in 2010.

A key part of my academic research covers community resource networks and “The Plural Sector”, the large expanse of ventures and organizations that are neither fully private nor fully public. So I was very excited to see some thought being given to alternative ways of organizing for success in NJ’s dwindling farmlands.

I hope to get a chance to visit and talk with the folks at the Foodshed Alliance this summer as a part of a relaunch of this blog.