Keeping Farms and Sustainable Fare in the Garden State

July 21, 2014

Sustainable Jersey hosts farm-to-table dinner on July 31

For me, summer is tomatoes straight from my garden, peaches from Terhune Orchards and Flying Fish’s seasonal Farmhouse Summer Ale. Although some outsiders may scoff at our license plates that hail New Jersey as the Garden State, we know better. Farming is an important part of New Jersey’s identity.

Donna Drewes

Preserving Farms and Farmland

Food and agriculture is New Jersey’s third largest industry. Our farms keep New Jersey beautiful while providing jobs and tax revenue that is critical to our economy. That’s why New Jersey is supporting its farms legislatively. Towns are helping farmers by adopting right-to-farm ordinances, which allow farming in residential areas without many restrictions.

Also, the 1999 Garden State Preservation Trust Act is the largest of its kind in the nation. The act allows farm owners to sell development rights in exchange for a guarantee that the land, even if sold, will remain working farmland. According to a statewide poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, 83 percent of New Jersey residents support the continuation of public funding for the preservation of open space and farmland. That’s a large percentage.

As part of Sustainable Jersey’s certification program, municipalities get points toward their certification if they have completed a Farmland Preservation Plan. Of the currently certified towns, 17 municipalities have done the Farmland Preservation Plan action and 61 towns have done the Community or School Garden action.  Check out the towns that have done these actions and read their plans. This information is available on the Sustainable Jersey Participating Communities page; for the search, select Food Actions to bring up the list.

In addition to farmland preservation, it’s also important to support our farmers. Some people say that farmers are more in danger of extinction than the actual lands, due to shrinking profit margins, conflicts with residential neighbors and extreme weather. In New Jersey, our leading restaurants are turning to local farms to provide fresh, locally grown produce. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is growing in popularity with residents. In a CSA, a group of people pledge to support a farm operation in advance of the growing season. In return, they receive shares of the farm’s bounty throughout the season.  Here’s a list of NJ CSAs provided by the NJ Department of Agriculture.

Sustainable Fare for Sustainable Jersey Farm-to-Table Dinner

Sustainable Fare for Sustainable Jersey is a farm-to-table dining event that celebrates all of these important players — the farmers, the restaurants serving local produce and the eaters who love good food and bluegrass music. I definitely fall into the third category.

The ticket price is tax-deductible and proceeds benefit Sustainable Jersey. This year we have nine chefs that have stepped up to contribute their talents and a course at the event.

This year’s chefs include:

The meal will be limited to New Jersey sourced ingredients and will once again feature Terhune Orchard’s award winning wines. Diners will be treated to an overview of each course by the chef that prepared it, as well as an explanation of its wine pairing by Gary Mount of Terhune Orchards. The Riverside Band, a local five-piece acoustic string band, will play throughout the meal, and diners will be sent home with local produce grown right on the farm.

Pam Mount, owner of Terhune Orchards and chair of the Sustainable Jersey Board of Directors said, “The night will be a great celebration of local food and wonderful chefs who are known for their dedication to focusing on fresh local ingredients. The event has been a big hit the last two years and we are happy to be hosting it again at our farm.”  Watch the one-minute video of Pam Mount giving an overview of the event.

Join me on July 31 at Sustainable Fare for Sustainable Jersey to support Sustainable Jersey and celebrate the farms and farmland that have earned us our reputation as the Garden State. Tickets are going fast so, REGISTER FOR SUSTAINABLE FARE FOR SUSTAINABLE JERSEY today.

Connect with Sustainable Jersey on its Website and Facebook page.

Donna Drewes is one of the principals that founded and now co-directs Sustainable Jersey. She is a professional planner with nearly 30 years of experience in sustainable development and natural resource management planning.