NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) and Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Office of Urban Extension and Engagement invite urban farmers and growers to explore, use and share the new Urban Agriculture Strategies for the State of New Jersey Report and its associated web portal.
The portal and the report that frames the Garden State’s challenges and opportunities, were developed as a partnership among NJDA, Rutgers, urban farmers, growers and other stakeholders engaged in urban agriculture advocacy, preservation, resources and policy.
“This work is a culmination of extensive input from numerous stakeholders, including community gardeners, community organization leaders, businesses and academia,” NJDA Secretary Douglas H. Fisher said. “A highly collaborative approach allowed diverse perspectives to be weaved together and create a strong cohesive report.”
Secretary Fisher noted that the five case studies in the “many-layered report” demonstrate the variety of pathways that the Garden State can take to create greater food security for its residents.
“It is imperative, now more than ever, that New Jersey comes together as a state to foster an effective alliance of growers, purveyors and consumers in order to tackle the gap that exists between the millions of pounds of food New Jersey produces and distributes each year and our communities that experience food insecurity,” Secretary Fisher said.
The web portal is designed to help bridge that gap by offering available state and local resources, sharing knowledge among farmers and growers, and providing a range of interactive maps related to urban agriculture around the state.
“Identifying communities experiencing food insecurity within our state is the first step in addressing these issues with a hyper-focused strategy,” Secretary Fisher said. “Defining what it means to be urban agriculture will allow programs to support the specific needs of individuals and organizations pursuing these ambitious and necessary endeavors.”
According to Richard Alomar, associate professor and director of the Rutgers Office of Urban Extension and Engagement, “the portal contains a wealth of information and resources to aid urban farmers and, along with the report, will go a long way towards supporting New Jersey ag industry.”
As the nation’s most densely populated state, New Jersey farming happens in and around large cities and suburban communities, and its agricultural practices take many forms.
Rutgers Office of Urban Extension and Engagement is focused on serving constituents in urban agriculture—defined by the food security, social, economic and environmental justice outcomes they seek to achieve—and working with community partners to identify significant urban agricultural sites across the state, Alomar explained.
“The launch of this new, interactive tool demonstrates Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s larger commitment to the development of healthy communities and the health, nutrition and wellbeing of all New Jersey residents,” Alomar said.