NOFA NJ is working hard to support organic farming and food systems throughout New Jersey. Be sure to read our Monthly Report to keep up-to-date on our work, our partners, and our impact.
Happy May. The days are growing longer and, though the threat of frost still lingers, the 2022 growing season has officially arrived! If you haven’t already done so, plan to support NJ farmers by enrolling in a CSA (see our CSA Listing), by shopping at a local farmers market (see Edible Jersey’s 2021 Farmers Market Guide), and by requesting locally-grown, organic produce at your favorite grocery stores and restaurants. If we don’t demand locally-produced foods, we aren’t doing enough to support our local producers!
Below is a summary of what NOFA NJ has been up to this April:
Programming & Education
NOFA NJ’s JourneyPerson Program is our effort to grow the next generation of farmers in the Garden State. In April’s Monthly Organic Open House, NOFA NJ Board President Mike Rassweiler presented an overview of our 2022 JP Farmers and their operations. Help our JourneyPerson Farmers succeed by following along with their journey here.
NOFA NJ Farm Tour – Much thanks to Jeff Tober and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance for hosting our April Farm Tour! PPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Pine Barrens ecosystem, promoting wide public awareness of the values of Pinelands resources and issues involved in their preservation, and advancing permanent acquisition of land and development rights by private and public conservation agencies.
As part of PPA, Jeff started Rancocas Creek Farm in Southampton, NJ. Why would an organization devoted to protecting the Pinelands start a farm outside of the Pinelands? As Jeff put it best, “Farming has an impact on everything”. Rancocas Creek Farm is a multi-faceted, diverse and beautiful operation with multiple simultaneous projects, including stormwater and erosion control tree plantings, native meadow installations (being managed with prescribed burn practices), silvopasture installations, a CSA program and more (see Project Pizza Box). Do yourself a favor, and check out both the Pinelands Preservation Alliance and Rancocas Creek Farm.
Growing in the Garden State – NOFA NJ was invited to return to Drumthwacket, the official residence of the Governor of New Jersey. We are continuing our YouTube series, Growing in the Garden State, with the hopes to bring gardening guidance and know-how to residents throughout NJ. Our work will include crop profiles, the establishment of a native pollinator meadow, and preserving the harvest (via pickles, pesto, and tomato sauce!).
Upcoming NOFA NJ Events – Details are yet to be finalized, but keep on the lookout for upcoming NOFA NJ events! We are currently planning for Festomato!, several on-farm dinners, film screenings, our 33rd Annul Winter Conference, and more.
Policy & Advocacy
Another month of activity behind-the-scenes… our Policy work is exhaustive and, thanks to Cali, NOFA NJ Policy Chair, we are tuned in to promising legislation and policy action. This month, NOFA NJ and Foodshed Alliance met with staff from Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s office, who has sponsored legislation in the hopes of creating an Organic Advisory Board to serve the NJDA (see bill A3444), among many other interesting and important efforts within food and ag.
Further, attendance at the State Board of Agriculture and the Hunterdon County Board of Agriculture meetings opened up more interaction with fellow agricultural organizations and continues to display the organic community’s eagerness to participate with the NJDA and other established entities within NJ agriculture.
Last, in collaboration with our fellow NOFA chapters, we are currently working on Farm Bill engagements as well as Policy Field Days, in which we plan to invite Members of Congress and State Representatives onto our farms to learn more about the realities of organic farming and the need to protect our natural resources. Stay tuned for more information!
A second trip to deliver compost brought me back home to Egg Harbor Township, where I headed down familiar paths to an unfamiliar operation, Enlightened Farm. A program within The Hansen Foundation, Enlightened Farm is a multi-faceted operation working to help individuals in the community heal, offering therapeutic services, recovery programs and employment training programs. In connecting their community to regenerative farming and holistic wellness, EF is furthering support for organic food systems in NJ and providing valuable services to the community.
Another visit to Reed’s Organic Farm gave me some time to chat with Cookie Till, one of its founders, owner of Steve & Cookie’s in Margate (host of the Margate Farmers Market), and long-time advocate of local foods. Cookie and I see eye to eye when it comes to the need for furthering locally-sourced value-added products and farm-to-institution arrangements, and I look forward to collaborating on that in their soon-to-come storefront and kitchen space!
Next, I paid a visit to Walking Bird Farm in Egg Harbor City. Jen & Ryan LaMonaca are running an impressive CSA with a diverse variety of crops, from brambles to brassicas. Walking Bird has been a long-time representative of organic agriculture in South Jersey and I’m glad to have finally visited. Check out their CSA, which offers many options and members-only events and dinners!
Later in April, Earth Day brought us generous support from Herbalist & Alchemist, who selected NOFA NJ to be a recipient of a portion of their Earth Day sales. Herbalist & Alchemist is a manufacturer of herbal supplements made from sustainably sourced botanicals, and as a Certified B Corp, we are committed to supporting organizations that support organic and sustainable growers. As a user of Herbalist & Alchemist products myself, I want to thank David Winston & the H&A team for their continued support of organics in NJ.
Earth Day also afforded us the opportunity to engage with two communities in NJ. NOFA NJ attended the Delaware Township School’s Earth Day event, where students K-8 were taught about composting, vermicomposting, and were able to get their hands dirty and touch some worms! At the ACUA Earth Day Festival in Egg Harbor Township, NOFA NJ connected with gardeners, community leaders and the general public in a presentation of our organization’s offerings.
The Community Gardens at St. Michaels Preserve are rocking and rolling. If you aren’t aware, a wonderful group of locals are working hard to grow food and community and are supporting The Chubby’s Project. After some service issues with my BCS… I borrowed an implement from Dean & Emily (Cabbage Throw Farm), headed to Hopewell and helped form some raised beds! If your organization, community garden or beginning farm could use some help and a BCS, reach out to NOFA NJ. We’ll come to you!
Kids in Business had a Spring Fling, and Board President Mike and I joined in the fun, dropped off some seedlings and compost, and spent time in their teaching gardens. It was so good to finally meet Barbara Weiland, Founder of the 40-year old nonprofit dedicated to educating children and families about the many aspects of starting a business, financial literacy, and healthy living. Barbara has a plan to get NJ organic produce in her local corner store, and we made some progress with the store manager during out visit. Fingers crossed!
Connection: Over the past month, we’ve connected with various organizations, too many to count! The goal of a food-secure, fair, sustainable local food system can only be achieve through partnerships and collaboration with others in the community. Be sure to check out Camden’s Center for Environmental Transformation, Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Outdoor Equity Alliance, New Jersey Farm Bureau, and MarketLink, among many others. Please keep NOFA NJ informed of any individuals or organizations that should be on our radar – we’d love to connect!
Here’s to another great month of organic farming and food systems work!
NOFA NJ Executive Director