Join the CSA!
What is a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You purchase a share to the farm before the farm season. Then during the season, you get a weekly distribution of fresh, chemical-free produce, fruits, flowers, and herbs. You have access to the farm for tours and events and access to fresh, chemical-free food. We give you a lot of value for your food dollar. Learn more or join today!
Rancocas Creek Farm is a project launched by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA) in 2020 on the 72-acre property that adjoins PPA headquarters in Southampton. In the fall of 2019, the land was donated to PPA by Cindy Yingling, Louis Eni, and Chris Eni. In the decades prior to 2020 the land was primarily used to grow conventionally farmed soybeans. PPA hired farmer Jeff Tober to create a chemical-free, regenerative farm on the land. The project was named Rancocas Creek Farm (RCF) and has the following goals:
Grow Chemical-Free Produce
We are proud to be growing fresh food in the Garden State! We will be growing farm fresh, chemical-free food that is high quality, diverse in nature, seasonal and fresh for the consumer. Diversity is one of our cornerstones and that will be reflected in what we grow! Our crop list will feature hundreds of varieties; for instance, we’ll have typical red beets but also beets that are golden yellow, striped red and white and cylindrical in form! We love the magic and fulfillment of fresh food grown with care and we are excited to grow and share these foods with you. (See our food list for more details.) RCF will not use synthetic chemical herbicides, insecticides, fungicides or fertilizers to grow these foods. Our goal is to have the farm be a healthy component of the larger ecosystem. (See more below about our growing philosophy and practices.)
Rancocas Creek Farm is near the Jade Run and the South Branch of the Rancocas Creek. The farm has historically had flooding issues which at times have caused flooding in Vincentown and the Rancocas Creek. To better manage stormwater, we are implementing several practices:
PPA headquarters and adjacent farmland before acqusition.
For many years, stormwater washed tons of soil into the Rancocas Creek in Vincentown.
Trees and crops planted on the property are preventing soil from washing away.
PPA has quickly transformed the property into a sustainable farm, minimizing runoff, growing crops and creating habitat for wildlife.
Tree Planting – Through a grant from the Nature Conservancy and The Watershed Institute, we planted over 1,100 native trees and shrubs in the lower, flood-prone areas of the farm and have been adding generous amounts of mulch to these zones. In addition to providing windbreak and pollinator habitat, these trees will provide increased water infiltration and stormwater management to reduce flooding. Read the blog post about this project.
Permanent Covers – We will have many acres of land in permanent clover and grass to reduce soil erosion and improve water absorption. These areas will be in the form of planted farm roads, mow strips in between blueberries, blackberries and Asian Pear trees, and a native grassland area.
Cover Crops – We will utilize a wide variety of cover crops in our agricultural fields to reduce erosion, hold on to rainwater and build long-term soil health. These will include rye, buckwheat, oats, peas, sorghum-sudangrass, oilseed radish, clover, vetch and more.
Promote Environmental Stewardship
Healthy, productive farms are important pieces in sustainable communities. Rancocas Creek Farm will work hard to be good stewards of our soils, our water and biodiversity in general. Healthy, well-managed farmland can sequester carbon dioxide, compost organic materials, provide habitat for a variety of birds, insects, and soil microbial life, and help our communities become greener in other ways such as our participation in Project Pizza Box which has diverted over 10,000 pizza boxes out of landfills in Burlington County. PPA has long worked to protect New Jersey’s Pinelands and provide avenues for people to experience them. Our work at the farm reflects those same priorities of stewardship and community involvement.
Rancocas Creek Farm relies heavily on people! Our chemical-free farming is labor-intensive and will be done by a ‘FARMY’ of full and part-time staff and volunteers. And there will be a lot of opportunities for people to interact with the farm. Whether it is taking a walk through the fields, birding, picking flowers, or attending a guided farm-tour, we want to provide ways for you to experience and appreciate the farm! In addition, we will be providing as much produce as we can to those in need with partners like NJ Farmers Against Hunger and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Farming can be very challenging, but it is also something that can benefit many of us in so many ways.
Where does our food go?
Our produce goes to members of our farm CSA, farm markets and restaurants, to the caterer for weddings and events that take place in our barn, and to people in need through partners like NJ Farmers Against Hunger and the Trenton Area Soup kitchen.
Connected to our Mission
The creation of a sustainable organic farm is connected to our mission to protect the Pinelands. Agriculture is a big issue in the Pinelands as nearly 68,000 acres of land in the Pinelands is used for farming (not counting cranberry farming). Conventional agriculture can have a negative impact on soil health, water quality, flooding, and the climate.
The Rancocas Creek Farm project will enhance our work by improving soil health and native biodiversity and reducing stormwater runoff into the Rancocas Creek. Read about our recent efforts to manage runoff here. The farm will serve as a demonstration that land can be managed in ways to improve the environment and support a sustainable farm business.
The farm will expose more people to the work we do to protect the Pinelands. Through its products and education and outreach programs, the farm will broaden the range of people we meet. We hope to form new alliances with individuals, organizations, and public officials that make us more effective in advancing policies that protect the Pinelands and all its unique resources.
Farming Philosophy and Practices
Our farming practices are based on the principle that the land on which we grow our food can support healthy soils and, over time, increase soil organic matter and biological activity. Our productive farmland can also host a wide variety of birds, insects, bats and butterflies. We accept that farming comes with responsibility to protect our fragile soils and the life that relies on their health. To grow great produce and practice good stewardship we make and spread rich composts; take fields out of production on a rotating basis to regenerate soil life; rotate our crops on a multiyear schedule to reduce pest and disease pressure; select crop varieties that have resistance to certain botanical diseases and make sure we are planting many different varieties including open pollinated and ‘old time’ strains. Diversity is a strength!
We also realize that agriculture is at the center of the climate crisis. Farming is greatly affected by the changing weather and severe weather events and farming has an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions and using healthy soils and best practices to sequester carbon in our soils. We are excited to be continually improving our farming methods to demonstrate how agriculture can be a part of the climate solution.
Meet the Farmers
Jeff is a native of Willow Grove, PA. He started growing food in the 1990s at Aspen Farms Community Garden in West Philadelphia. That led to volunteer stints on farms in PA and eventually an Apprenticeship at Brookfield Farm in Amherst, MA where he apprenticed for 2 years and was the Assistant Farmer for 2 years. In 2007 he started Fernbrook Farm CSA in Chesterfield, NJ with the Kuser family and joined PPA in 2020 to start Rancocas Creek Farm. He currently serves on the board of the NJ Agricultural Society and on the Burlington County Agricultural Development Board and helped launch NJCRAFT (Collaborative Regional Association for Farmer Training). Jeff is married to Becky Free who has been at PPA since 2007 and is currently the Director of Membership and Communications. Their sons Henry and Pete often help at the farm (if they must…)
We also have several hard-working, dedicated, energetic part-time farmers at Rancocas Creek! We rely on many hands to get this work done and in 2020 we were fortunate to have Alex, Tina, Brent, Katie, Michelle, Tori, Sonrisa and many incredible volunteers. If you are interested in farm work please contact Jeff at email@example.com or 609-859-8860 ext 130.
Follow the Rancocas Creek Farm on Instagram @rancocascreekfarm.