Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) Encourages a New Generation of Farmers
Posted: May 4, 2012
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.
“Duke Farms is pleased to support this innovative program that promotes farming in New Jersey,” said Timothy M. Taylor, executive director, Duke Farms Foundation. “Obtaining access to land is a major hurdle for most beginning farmers, so we are making 140 acres of our land available for the incubator farm. In addition, we will also help in the preparation of the land by plowing, disking and tilling. Supporting healthy agricultural practices is part of our mission, to encourage and educate people to become good stewards of the land.”
Application information on the Beginner Farmer Program will be available later this year 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.
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.
For further information, contact:
The Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New Jersey
334 River Road, Hillsborough, New Jersey 08844
908-371-1111 x 6.