Real Issues in the Decline of Mid-size Farms

Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and
you’re a thousand miles from a cornfield.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

An Essay on the Political Economy of NJ Farming

The most recent Census of Agriculture shows the loss of America’s mid-sized farms even as the number of large and small size farms are increasing. Loss of the “ag-in-the-middle” does threaten the stability and productivity of our farm-to-fork food system. Many have weighed in proposing solutions to saving family farms – but often the agenda gets hijacked by those who plow with their pencil and are a thousand miles from a cornfield.
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Farm Calls: What You Can Do to Stop Illegal Nursery Stock Hucksters

Joel Flagler, Bergen County Ag Agent counted 11 back-of–the-truck hawkers on his way to work this past holiday season. Overnight “nurseries” spring up just before major holidays, selling trees, plants, and plant products.

Buy LocalThese are venders who don’t have their products inspected for diseases and pests like Jersey Nursery Growers must in accordance with New Jersey’s Nursery Law. They undercut local growers, evade New Jersey taxes, spend their proceeds elsewhere, and risk importing insect or diseased infested plant materials into our state. It’s a worsening problem.

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Cherry Grove Farm Offers a Unique Opportunity

On our Sustaining Farming on the Urban Fringe website we talk a lot about the difficulty new and would-be farmers have learning farm practices and generating cash for a grubstake that would allow them to take the plunge into their small farm dream. Finding internships or job opportunities that offer a combination of sustainable farming skills along with a chance to hone the “people skills” needed for a successful agritourism venture are fairly uncommon in New Jersey.

Cherry Grove Farm is presently offering this type of opportunity. We support our state’s mission to encourage new and beginning farmers, organic and traditional, by showcasing opportunities as they become available. If you own a farm that is able to provide this kind of experience, share it on Sustaining Farming on the Urban Fringe.
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Agritourism in New Jersey

ag-tractor

Ag census data shows our state ranks first nationally in the percentage of farm revenue earned from agritourism.

When you think about the agricultural challenges in NJ, such as market competition, rising land and input costs, encroachment from sprawl, and a complex regulatory environment, this statistic becomes less surprising. In order to stay in business, farmers operating small and mid sized farms have had to look for ways to add value to their products. Farm life, as fewer people are engaged in it, turns out to be a product. It is something people are drawn to, even as urban & suburban lifestyles pull them further and further away from a tangible relationship with land and food. [Read more…]