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Archive for April, 2011

I’m trying for a regular Friday posting, but work, school and such takes priority! The weekly news roundup will post early tomorrow morning. -jack

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I’m trying this again. One of the goals of this site is to serve as a central resource or hub for information and news related to the vast world of NJ Agriculture. Our focus is on smaller-scale production and local markets, but NJ’s agriculture, food and broader economy are tightly integrated, so taking a snapshot of state-wide and cross-sector goings on can only help make us all better advocates for New Jersey’s farms, farmers and open spaces.

This blog is a labor of love, so work, school and family commitments often override the desire to publish on a consistent basis, but I’ll see what I can do to make this a regular feature. -jack

Roadside Stands & Pocket Farms

Roadside Stands are preparing to open on-time despite this Spring’s weather

Jersey Fresh

The Jersey Fresh program expands to include Jersey Grown Wood: Details here via the Courier-Post online

NJ Audubon has purchased a license and will make and sell bird houses & bird feeders made of Atlantic White Cedar across the state.

Equine

Two Colts Neck Horse Farms Continue to be Quarantined Due To Equine Herpes Outbreak: Investigation Continues

The Race to Keep the Meadowlands Track Open Continues:

Tellers discuss pay cuts this week”

The Daily News covers different versions of the meeting that never was

John Brennan of The Record Brings us up to speed here

Saving America’s Horse Farms”

Agricultural Education

Sussex Tech gets $7,800 grant from NJDA The grant helps create new generations of farmers, Ag and food industry employees with the skills and knowledge to create new businesses and sustain old ones.

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Editors Note: I’m very happy that Jesse has accepted my invitation to write for Pocket Farms. We’re a diverse state — geographically as well as demographically — and it’s important to have voices from all corners of New Jersey participate in the conversation about Garden State agriculture and food systems

I am delighted to accept Jack’s invitation to write for Pocket Farms during the next eight months. Mostly, I will chronicle my experience with a Sussex County farm that has launched a new CSA in Hoboken and Jersey City but I will also report on the “local” food movement here and across the State.

My interest in local agriculture stems from my childhood, long before moving to my adopted state two decades ago. I spent the first 19 years of my life on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Western Montana, where agriculture — as the Reservation’s primary industry — was only accessible to the approximately 70 percent white residents. I’m white and my maternal grandfather and great grandfather were farmers on the reservation.

Cattle grazing, logging, hay and alfalfa were the Reservation’s agricultural outputs but the valley was home to several dairies as well as potato, pork and beef farms. Yet, the milk, beef and other produce sold at the local grocery store originated from out-of-state. I always wondered, why did the local dairies ship their milk away when the milk my parents bought came from dairies as far away as Oklahoma and Texas? Could the local dairies supply the demand for milk and other dairy products for the 20,000 reservation residents? I never got satisfactory answers to these questions.

After I moved to New Jersey, I joined an organic food co-op (before CSA’s became sexy), which I soon abandoned because of the lack of variety of produce. Even a twenty-something fledgling foodie didn’t know what to do with six heads of cabbage or a bag of turnips.

Now as a hardcore foodie and marathoner, I’m salivating at the promise of a multifarious bounty delivered weekly to Hoboken and Jersey City from the Sunset View Farm.

I will write about the CSA but I also want to examine the history of the local food movement in Hudson County. I’ll ask whether residents from all income-levels and ethnic and communities have access to fresh, locally grown produce. Who are the farmers that supply produce for the county’s farmers markets and CSA’s and does the variety, quantity and quality meet the needs of the most intransigent locavore? I also want to add my voice to the current debate about whether locally grown food system can be sustainable long-term.

It’s not realistic to believe that NJ farmers could meet the demands for the state, particularly for foods that cannot grow here however, what about food that is grown here such as tomatoes? I’m finding tomatoes from Canada, Mexico and as far away as Israel at Hoboken supermarkets. Could NJ farmers ever produce year-round tomatoes for its citizens? What does it do with its late summer harvest?

Stay tuned.

Jesse

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Pocket Farms is growing! Kind of. We’ll have a new contributor joining us shortly who will be talking about his CSA experiences this season and giving us a perspective on local agriculture and fresh foods in Hudson County — New Jersey and the nation’s most densely populated county. Jesse will also be providing his perspective on the local and sustainable movement.

His bio is here:

A grandson of farmers, Jesse was born and raised in Montana. He moved to New Jersey at the age of 19 in search of work opportunities, to escape the boredom of rural living and to be near New York City. Although his parents didn’t maintain a farm, they raised chickens (for eggs and meat). Jesse named each rooster and hen and fed his “pet” chickens every day, which is why he’d stay in his bedroom and refuse to speak to his parents on slaughter day. With his pet’s eggs, Jesse prepared his first omelet at age 4 and prepared an entire meal (including dessert) for his family at age 7. After working in sales and finance, Jesse earned a Bachelors degree in Sociology from Columbia University in 2008. Currently he’s the Director of Marketing & Communications at ReServe, a national nonprofit. He just joined the Sunset View Farm CSA and is looking forward to using ingredients from the farm to cook up a storm.

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Details here via NJ.com.

Fantastic news. This corner of NJ really needs some TLC and long-term preservation. The woods, fields, wetlands and waterways in this area are an integral part of the Garden State and an ongoing reminder of our agrarian and colonial heritages.

And the fact that production agriculture is part of this deal sets a nice precedent for large preservation deals that protect and enhance New Jersey’s land base.

But let’s not forget about the small farms that still support our myriad farm stands in all corners of the state. We need to ensure the pocket farms that support our roadside stands are preserved and that open space in our most urban counties is also preserved and protected.

Because where else are you going to put the farmers market, mobile food truck or portable roadside stands in our most densely populated counties!

Update 4-22-11 More in-depth coverage from New Jersey Newsroom.

Details the collaborative arrangements between DEP and it’s Green Acres Program and the State Agriculture Development Committee (SADC) to keep this land preserved for agricultural production, wildlife habitat and open space.

900 acres of farmland is being preserved in the deal.

Update 2: 4-22-11 The AP Story via the Philadelphia Inquirer is here.

Includes comments by NJ Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher.

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