More Affordable Farmland Available for New Jersey Farmers
PRESS RELEASE: SERGEANTSVILLE (April 7, 2023) – In partnership with the New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJ Conservation), the Foodshed Alliance adds a new site to their Sustainable Agriculture Enterprises (SAgE) program, furthering the program’s mission to make farmland more accessible to beginning and expanding farmers and ranchers. NJ Conservation now hosts the Foodshed Alliance’s SAgE program on 19 acres of their preserved farmland located in historic Sergeantsville within Hunterdon County.
The goal of the SAgE program is to lease preserved farmland to organic and regenerative farm businesses at affordable long-term rates. The Foodshed Alliance works with land trusts and government agencies that hold deed-restricted farmland in order to facilitate farmers’ access to affordable 10-year lease agreements. Partnerships with managers of preserved farmland are essential for this program, as a key factor in a successful organic farming operation involves long-term soil rejuvenation to avoid using chemical fertilizers. Ultimately, converting this land into smaller, regenerative farming operations will result in less soil erosion and more sequestered carbon.
“Land access is one of the biggest challenges for farmers in the state of New Jersey, while climate change is a huge issue that affects all of us,” said Foodshed Alliance’s Executive Director Kendrya Close. “We come at this by growing new and emerging farmers, who are committed to growing in a way that is good to our soil and water, that sequesters carbon, and that takes the steps necessary to reverse climate change.”
The SAgE program offers farmers land tenure at affordable rates in order for them to strengthen the viability of their enterprises while developing and rejuvenating the soil. The flagship SAgE location is in Andover, Sussex County, and hosts a community of eight farm businesses from various backgrounds and expertise. In Warren County, the SAgE program partners with one of the county’s Green Acres parks to host one 5-acre flower farm.
The budding partnership with NJ Conservation establishes the third SAgE site, which will be the future home to three to four small, regenerative farm enterprises. A sublease has already been signed with Ubuntu Permaculture Mission for six acres to establish the first farm at this location.
This new partnership aligns with NJ Conservation’s mission to preserve land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, NJ Conservation has preserved over 140,000 acres of land across the state.
“As a conservation group, we are thrilled that this partnership will be a way to help manage our farmland,” said NJ Conservation’s Policy Manager Amy Hansen. “And manage it in a way that protects pollinators and water quality, and provides healthy food and a healthy environment.”
The Foodshed Alliance is currently accepting applications for the Sergeantsville location from interested farmers and ranchers. To find out more about the application process, contact SAgE Program Manager Eric Derby at Eric@FoodshedAlliance.org.
For more information on the SAgE program, visit foodshedalliance.org/sage/.
To learn more about NJ Conservation, visit www.njconservation.org/.