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. read more: The NOFA NJ Beginner Farmer Incubator by Eve Minson — Kickstarter.
For more information, visit the NOFA-NJ Website at www.nofanj.org.