; Annie’s Project: Farming in New Jersey’s Cities and the Urban Fringe | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Annie’s Project: Farming in New Jersey’s Cities and the Urban Fringe

Robin Brumfield, Deborah Greenwood, Madeline DiNardo, Amy Rowe, Jan Zientek, Richard Vanvranken, Joseph Heckman, Meredith Melendez, Laura Lawson, Nicholas Polanin, A. Both, Ashaki Rouff, and Meredith Taylor


New Jersey is heavily urbanized, with 92.2 percent of its population residing within urbanized areas, yet has an estimated 734,000 acres in farmland. However, access to healthy and nutritious food is limited in some urban areas, especially inner cities. The goal of Annie’s Project: Farming in New Jersey’s Cities and the Urban Fringe was to provide production and business management skills specifically geared to novice urban farmers and the unique challenges they face. These challenges include soil quality issues such as fertility and heavy metal contamination, need for additional off-farm employment requiring time management skills, crop irrigation and water quality, direct marketing in food deserts, food safety, working with WIC and SNAP-Ed clients, overcoming language and cultural barriers, and acquiring short-term leases for land and property. This six-week, one evening class per week program was offered simultaneously in three urban locations. Our target audience consisted of women producers, beginning farmers, and military veterans. We took cues from a former program organized by Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County that trained unemployed NJ military veterans for jobs in horticulture and urban agriculture. In that program, 25% of the military veterans were women, who expressed interest in additional training opportunities in urban farm business management. In the recent program, participants gained a better understanding of communications and marketing strategies, business planning and finances, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. We are asking them to complete a portion of their business plan each week and this homework was discussed at the beginning of each class. This let to networking that is some cases will lead to ongoing collaboration. Participants received training in a range of topics that will help them start or expand successful businesses.

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