LAWNSIDE, N.J. — New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher, along with state and federal officials visited Free Haven Farms in Lawnside to highlight local produce and agricultural education. Micaiah and Dr. Cynthia Hall own and operate the farm which has a camp week attended by more than 20 youths learning about agriculture, ecosystems, food chains, soil chemistry and more.
“The Halls work with students to educate them on how to grow various crops,” Secretary Fisher said. “They deserve a tremendous amount of credit for having a vision not only to produce vegetables to take to markets, but for sharing their knowledge and expanding the horizons of others.”
Micaiah Hall has been growing food since he was a youth in Connecticut and is the former Farm Director of Mill Creek Farm in Philadelphia. Cynthia Hall is an Environmental Geochemist and Associate Professor at West Chester University. She received her BS in Chemistry from Howard University and Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from Georgia Tech.
“One of our primary objectives is a commitment to be involved in the community,” Cynthia Hall said. “We hope to spark interest in these youths about the importance of growing food and where it comes from. Then, that can be a pathway for them to develop healthier eating habits and possibly becoming involved in a sector of food and agriculture when they begin considering career alternatives.”
The Halls established Free Haven Farms in 2017 after purchasing their residence in Cynthia’s hometown. They wanted to create a farm where they could raise their children and show others in their community how to grow their own food. The location allows the Halls’ produce to be accessible to the community.
Free Haven Farms started by operating a farmer’s market on site on Sundays. The farm also distributes its goods using a CSA model. This summer, Free Havens Farms can also be found at the Haddon Heights and Lawnside community farmers markets on Sundays, the Haddonfield market on Saturdays and in Philadelphia at the 22nd Street and Tasker market on Wednesdays and the Cherry Street Pier market on Saturdays.
Free Haven Farms also has volunteer work days on Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m. and has a hands-on curriculum it brings to visit students or participants at their location.
— New Jersey Department of Agriculture