Helping to Feed Those in Need
Rancocas Creek Farm received a grant to provide food to those in need this summer.
By Jeff Tober, Farm ManagerSeptember 3, 2020
Rancocas Creek Farm is a new venture sponsored by PPA to take land that has been farmed conventionally for many decades and transform it into a sustainable farm that will grow chemical-free food, build soil health, promote biodiversity and involve the larger community in a variety of ways. You can learn more about the goals of the farm here.
We hope to show that good farming practices are a part of environmental stewardship and go hand-in-glove with the protection of our amazing Pinelands. In April we took step to address some stormwater issues on the property and you can learn about the work we did here.
This has been a strange year to start a farm, but it has created opportunities to make a difference. We received a $10,000 grant from the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief & Recovery Fund to provide over 2 tons of fresh produce to food pantries, distribution sites, and soup kitchens such as the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK), New Beginnings Pantry and New Jersey Farmers Against Hunger.
We have also donated healthy food to residents in Hammonton thanks to our partnership with Allies in Caring (AIC) and our work with the Hammonton Health Coalition. On June 22nd, our farm’s first harvest of 200 lbs. of summer squash, zucchini, beets, kale, and Swiss Chard went to Hammonton families in need. Residents affected by COVID-19, who lost jobs and are caring for children with disabilities, or who struggle with mental health issues received food. We also worked with El Comite de Apoyo a Los Trabajadores Agricolas (CATA-The Farmworkers Support Committee) and Migrant Worker Outreach to provide produce to farm laborers working in the region’s farm fields.
We sell produce to restaurants, farm stands, wholesalers, and CSAs. And when weddings resume, we look forward to partnering with Jeffrey Miller Catering. In addition to our 2020 produce, we have planted blueberry fields, an Asian pear orchard, and a blackberry patch for future production. We are also aggressively using soil-building cover crops, making and spreading compost, procuring farm equipment and Little Construction is in the process of building a pole barn for farm use.
We have a part-time crew that has been working extremely hard to make our first season a successful one. Many thanks to Tori, Katie, Brent, Michelle, Alex, Karen, Sonrisa, Tina, Bridget, John, and Ski. Also, many thanks to Farmer Ed Allen who farmed these 72-acres for many years. He has been helpful in establishing cover crops in the fall of 2019 and helping me to get the lay of the land on this property.