Archive for the ‘Local Markets’ Category

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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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.


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.



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Earlier this week, I received this emailed press release about the NJ blueberry crop from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture: “POPULAR JERSEY FRESH BLUEBERRIES NOW AVAILABLE”.

“Jersey Fresh blueberries, the official state fruit, are now in season and available at local supermarkets, farmers markets, roadside stands, and pick-your-own farms, Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher announced today.”

This should be an interesting year for berries because strawberries are late this year and many farmers are still struggling with the strawberry crop this year because of the rain and wetness.

“Getting the strawberries out of the field this year is like mud wrestling” said a Farmers Market/Farmstand employee I talked to this week.

“They are going fast [the strawberries]” she added and they sell out early every day at every market.

I can attest to that having missed out on fresh strawberries every Sunday for the past three weeks at the Red Bank Farmers market.

If you’ve got a hankering for fresh blueberries and are trying to find some fresh ones visit the

Jersey Fresh Site


Visit NJ Farms

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While the focus of this blog is on small-scale New Jersey farming and related issues, we’ve never lost sight of the bigger picture around local and regional food systems and Red Bank’s Cheese Cave is a mighty fine addition to central New Jersey and New Jersey Shore food culture and systems. Friends of ours hosted a cheese and wine tasting over the weekend and Steve Catania, the Cheese Cave’s owner, brought his wares and did not disappoint.

Serving up seven cheeses to complement the thirty wines our good friends graciously purchased and provided, Steve provided a history of the different cheeses and served up a quick tip on pairing wine and cheese:

“If it grows together, it goes together”

meaning that a Spanish goat cheese for instance, would go quite well with a Spanish White or a Fromage de Meaux goes well with an Alsatian White. And of course, a nice Port goes quite well with Stilton.

Steve also emphasized the differences between farmstead and artisan cheeses, farmstead cheeses being made and processed entirely on a specific farm where the animals are raised and milked, and artisan cheeses which are made by hand and usually ripened or aged in localized cheese caves near the farm or cheesemaker.

The Cheese Cave is also an active participant in the local community and community events. This event was held at our friend’s beautiful apartment in downtown Red Bank. And every Friday The Cheese Cave offers a cheese tasting from 5pm -8pm for $5 on their premises at 14 Monmouth Street. You can bring your own wine and they even provide the glasses. It’s a great pre-dinner or pre-movie event and a wonderful place to gather after getting off the train at the end of a long week.

During last July 4th’s Kaboom Fest, the Cheese Cave even offered to go boxes of cheese for picnics which you could take down with you to the river bank for a picnic while enjoying the fireworks.

The Cheese Cave
14 Monmouth Street
Red Bank, NJ, 07701

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