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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Earth Day at SAgE Farms

The duck whisperer, Jacob, enjoyed his time showing off a resident duckling, Photo by MB Journe, 04/2024

The Foodshed Alliance celebrated Earth Day last Saturday, April 20th at the SAgE Andover Farm located at 290 Route 206 Andover NJ.

SAgE (Sustainable Agriculture Enterprise program), comprising several different farm lots, is a program of the Foodshed Alliance that creates sustainable farming in the local community by providing healthy food and protecting the environment. The SAgE program leases preserved farmland to farmers for the production of certified Organic crops. (Sustainable Agriculture Enterprise (SAgE) program | Foodshed Alliance.

The day seemed unrushed as clusters of people milled about, enjoying the melodic acoustic songs beautifully rendered by Maribyrd, a well-known local singer.  

Visitors enjoyed the day with a variety of free activities.

The celebration opened with a greeting and prayer from Chief Mann of the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm, located onsite. According to their website (munseethreesisters.org), the farm is Native American-owned and specializes in carrying the following products:

  • Smokeable flower – CBD
  • Edibles – CBD full-spectrum
  • Glass, acrylic, wood pipes
  • Native American crafts
  • Incense sticks, burners, and accessories
  • Sage, sweetgrass, pine, cedar, and mixed botanical bundles

At 10 a.m. there was a morning hike to Muckshaw Pond. There were farm tours throughout the day where visitors could chat with the farmers and share tips and tricks for a successful growing season. 

It was a day of community support for local farmers in our area. There were tents where visitors could meet the farmers and tour their fields and pick their brains on a variety of topics.

Foodshed Alliance education table. Photo by MB Journe, 04/2024

Next to the Foodshed Alliance tent was LocalShare, their program for connecting volunteers with local farms so that crops left after the harvest can be collected and distributed to our local food pantries. This is called gleaning.

At the Foodshed tent they also gave out free vegetable seeds. ease check out the Foodshed Alliance website for this year’s Gleaning Calendar. 

Earth Day marks the start of the season, so some farmers use this day to educate the public. Seeds of Peace Farm sold eggs and herb-infused honey. The farm’s tent was surrounded by children happily petting and hugging the cutest chicks.

Seeds of Peace Farm educated visitors on their CSA program that runs from July through October. Members can buy a share for the season which is picked up at the farm. Each share has pasture-raised eggs, seasonal fruits and vegetables, microgreens, and herbs. You can find check them out on their Facebook page.

According to their website, their current share prices are as follows:

  • Pasture-raised egg share $60 – $99 for 3 months
  • Eggs, raw honey, and veggies – $450.00
  • Full Share: eggs, raw honey, and larger monthly deliveries – $950.00
  • Add-ons: Raw honey – $12.00 per 1lb., pasture-raised eggs – $6- $8 per dozen

Topics discussed at the Earth Day event included seed starting, soil preparation, and companion plants. 

A very easy plant to start by seed is tomatoes. The trick is to prune six inches of branches off of the bottom of the plant ensuring a strong root system.  

Helpful hints:

Neem oil was suggested as a rust and mildew prevention.

Tomatoes, broccoli, and cabbage can get infected with hornworms which are hard to find because of their coloring and because they blend in with the plant. They can be seen under a black light flashlight and can be picked off the plant at night.

Fellow gardeners were eager to chime in.

Beverly from Andover a long-time gardener, said “I am gardening the easy way now, I plant my tomatoes, basil, and strawberry plants directly in holes I make in straw bales. It is not necessary to prime the straw bale with fish emulsion. Every plant grows well. This is a great method for those gardeners with mobility problems.” 

Beverly’s friend and neighbor Diane suggested using stumps in the garden beds – it looks nice and offers a place to sit when weeding.

Sussex County Community College students planted herbs in their community garden and gave away seedlings at their stand.  

All Things Good Farm had a shed with homemade beauty products, paintings, and crafts for sale. They also had a free painting table where kids and adults created art on rocks and wood. 

Stones waiting for painting at All Things Good Farmstand. Photo by MB Journe, 04/2024

Some of the other vendors were River Valley Community Grains, selling their organic flower, grain, pancake batter, granola, beans, and much more. They are located at Marksboro Mills, 1045 Route 94, Marksboro, NJ (551-795-1699). 

From their website, their mission is stated as “River Valley Community Grains uses a collaborative approach to grain production, encouraging farmers to use regenerative agricultural methods. We are working to engage the farmer, miller, and baker in conversation with each other to meet the growing demand for nutrient-dense grains, local flour, “real bread,” and healthy cereals in our region. Together with our partners, we create nourishing, delicious flours and food, while holding a shared vision of restoring the soils, waters, and health of our communities.” 

This reporter can attest that they have the best fresh bread made from their grains, delivered every Tuesday and Saturday. 

A full listing of SAgE vendors can be found on the Foodshed Aliance website. Other vendors worth mentioning include Mazur Chocolates, Freehand Custom Carvings, Lionshead Bee Farm, Greenhouse on Greendel, Emily’s Hearth, Blue Heron Farm & Nursery, and farmer-made fair trade baskets, towels, and more.

Friends, Jen and Jaybird pose happily in Freehand Custom Carvings’ sunflower frame. Photo by MB Journe, 04/2024

It was a great day! Let’s make Earth Day every day and always remember to “give peas a chance!”

Yelens Choban
MB Journe, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

MB has been a resident of Frelinghuysen for the past 22 years. She lives in an old farmhouse on the side of the road. She enjoys the simple life, puttering in her flower garden, practicing Qi Gong under her redbud tree, or creating art on the deck.
MB's experience as a journalist began when her son was quite young, she began writing for The Paulinskill Valley Chronicle, often bringing him to work with her. Her responsibilities were writing articles with photos, selling ads, and billing. This suited her, as a single mother not wanting to be separated from her small child.

She considers herself a lover of nature, often seen photographing its beauty. She has worked as a seasonal employee of YMCA Camp Mason for the past 17 years. She is a teacher and mentor of children, always emphasizing the YMCA’s core values - caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. She tries to listen carefully to each individual she interviews, getting their viewpoint. That is why she likes to write about the interesting people and places that make Warren County such a nice place to live.