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Like NJ Open Space? Thank (and support) Farmers

Virginia Lamb - May 2022

Farmer planting into cover crop as part of NJRCD On-Farm Trials to test out innovative farm practices that increase soil health. Photo credit: Virginia Lamb

In the 8 weeks that I have been working for North Jersey RC&D I have learned a few things about our Garden State farmers:

  1. They work HARD.

  2. They must constantly ADAPT to fluctuations in increasingly extreme weather, supply chain variability, equipment and commodity pricing, and labor, among many other factors.

  3. They are expected to accept and accommodate a high level of RISK.

  4. They are responsible for a large percentage of the OPEN SPACE we take for granted.

All this and we expect our groceries and pumpkins, milk and beef to be available when and where we want them, and at a reasonable cost.

At a time of record high fuel, fertilizer and labor prices, farmers need our support. They need to have access to funding and technical resources so they can continue to produce the food and ingredients we all rely on. They need local officials and the public to understand their goals and challenges, and work with them to support their success.

Through grants from USDA-NRCS and NJDEP, North Jersey RC&D has partnered with local farmers to help them purchase equipment and access technical and research support that enable them to adopt new practices to improve soil health. This support lowers the financial risk of the transition and helps keep these Garden State farms viable.

In addition to producing our food and ingredients, farmers are responsible for thousands of acres of open space in our densely populated state. Farmland helps keep local taxes down, as farms require very few municipal services. We must realize that many farmers are under no obligation to continue farming.

If you support open space and agriculture in the Garden State, support your local farmers. Buy local agricultural products. Find out about their ventures to maintain financial viability. Urge local leaders to be friendly to agriculture. Contact your legislators to ask about what they are doing to support farmers in New Jersey. Let's all do our part to support agriculture in the Garden State.


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