That's us, above, with the remains of our storm-damaged roof and our barn, which will be repaired by our strategic partners at Duke Farms. From the left, Eve Minson, Alison Romano and Kyle Walsh.
Thank you to everyone who has taken us past our original goal!
We will be able to purchase a tiller, a washing station and a cooler for fresh green vegetables.
Any additional money we raise will go toward an irrigation system, an essential component of a successful farm.
The experience in New Jersey of Hurricane Sandy has reinforced what we so fervently believe: That delicious, organic food should be grown locally, in every community. That we must be sustainable and energy-smart.
Our program will train young farmers in every aspect of organic farming, and then help them find land to farm in communities across our state.
Thank you for being a part of our campaign.
NOFA-New Jersey promotes local, organic agricultural products, for healthy environments and healthy communities. The demand for local, organic foods is high. But New Jersey farmers are retiring and all over the state, development continues to push out dwindling farmland. This is not a good situation. But we are doing SOMETHING about it.
We're launching the Beginning Farmer Incubator Program at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, NJ with the help of the USDA Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program Grant, bringing small scale farming back to New Jersey by helping train new farmers.
We're taking an old barn that hasn't been used for farming in 20 years and turning it into The Center for Working Lands, with a cooler, a wash station for fresh greens, and all the farming equipment.
The first $15,000 we raise pays for the basics. With $50,000 we'll be able to add a greenhouse to raise tender annuals, we can irrigate the fields, and get the equipment that's at the heart of a sustainable, organic farm operation.
NOFA-NJ leadership, staff, supporters and all the new farmers we'll be training all over NJ!
WHAT'S NEW IN FARMING? A new program designed to provide a helping hand for beginning farmers is set to debut in the coming year. The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) is launching an incubator farm on Duke Farms in Hillsborough that will create a network of solutions to a complex issue – too few beginning farmers and not enough access to farmland. The goal is to once again make small-scale farming a viable profession in New Jersey.
“We are thrilled to offer this new program,” said Eve Minson, Beginning Farmer Program coordinator. “The Incubator Farm is basically a low-risk opportunity for a new farmer to launch a business. Through this three-year program, he or she will have access to land and a chance to test out a business model on a small-scale, build up capitol, graduate onto his or her own land and run a successful business.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average age of American farmers is over 55 and continues to increase, while the number of young farmers under the age of 25 has declined by 30 percent. At the same time, new people are coming to agriculture and beginning farm enterprises; however, many of these new farmers do not come from farming backgrounds and may not possess the technical or hands-on skills needed to start a successful farming business. In response to this issue, the USDA has begun to grant funds to regionally-based groups to train and support beginning farmers through their Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. NOFA-NJ was a recipient a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant in 2011.
Application information on the Beginner Farmer Program is available online and farming will get underway in the fall of 2012.
This project was supported by a three year Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2011-49400-30739.
For more information, visit the NOFA-NJ Website at www.nofanj.org.About NOFA-NJ
The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) is a membership-based educational non-profit organization that represents a unique collaboration among the stakeholders in our food system. Our members and our governing board include farmers, gardeners, consumers, retailers, processors, educators, policy-makers and researchers. NOFA-NJ serves as a catalyst in the development of a sustainable organic agricultural system; provide technical assistance to both organic and progressive conventional farmers to help build and maintain sustainable operations; educate diverse audiences about the significance and meaning of organic practices for food and the environment; and provide information and resources about current agricultural policy initiatives.
1. Are these donations tax deductible?
Yes, NOFA-NJ is a 501(c)(3) organization etc. etc.
2. Who are the farmers on the Incubator Farm?
This farm is a training program – approximately 65 acres is sectioned into fields, which will be leased to new farmers who do not have access to land. After 3 to 5 years of testing their business plan, identifying markets and gathering financial records, these farmers will be assisted in locating a more permanent farming situation. Many banks and government programs require at least three years of financial records before a farmer can qualify for loans – this Incubator Farm is crucial for those who do not have access to a support system that will allow a new farmer to gain that qualifying experience. After a new farmer “graduates” from the Incubator Farm, the spot will open for another farmer to test his or her mettle.
3. Can anyone be a farmer on the Incubator Farm?
Farming is a tough industry and we are looking foster new businesses that will provide healthy food and protect vital community resources. With that in mind, we require at least two years of mentored farming experience before you are eligible for a spot on the Incubator Farm. We need to know that the farmer is invested in his or her new business, understands the technical aspects of agriculture and can handle the demanding nature of farm work. If you have never worked on a farm, we will help connect you to New Jersey farms that have apprenticeships available. After accumulating some field experience and learning about plant physiology, soil biology and cropping systems, we can talk!
4. Why are you located in central Jersey – is this the best market?
We have a great partner, Duke Farms Foundation, who has provided the land for this project. This Incubator Farm has been the result of over 5 years of planning – this did not happen overnight! Over the course of three years, we will be scouting new locations in New Jersey – all over the state.
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