On July 30th, The Urban Agriculture Working Group of CFF partnered with the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers to host a day-long tour of urban agriculture sites in Newark, NJ. Twenty-five funders participated in the bus tour that began with a look at the urban farms of the Greater Newark Conservancy. We heard from staff and participants in their programs at both Court Street Farm and Hawthorne Healthy Harvest Farm. The two farms combined for over 65,000 pounds of food produced in 2014 which was distributed by youth at 12 farm stands around the city and to 50 members of their own Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. We then continued to the main facility of Greater Newark Conservancy for lunch and more presentations.
At lunch, catered by Newark’s own Harvest Table, we heard from Stephanie Greenwood of Victoria Foundation who presented an overview of urban agriculture in Newark and detailed many of the people and organizations working to grow food and distribute it in the city. She was joined by Master Gardener Carla Greene who spoke about her experience running her own garden as well as being a Newark Garden Ambassador. We were also joined by Baye Adofo-Wilson, Newark’s Deputy Mayor for Economic and Housing Development, and Dr. Hanaa Hamdi, Director of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness. Dr. Hamdi discussed her research on the role of social and structural impacts on health, and how one’s health is an outcome of many overlapping systems as opposed to just personal choice.
In the afternoon we visited Ironbound Community Corporation at their headquarters which includes a small garden and rainwater harvesting system, as well as a larger garden across the street. As the rain started to come down we made our way to a new site still being completed that will be a much larger urban farm run by Ironbound.
To conclude the day we heard from a representative of AeroFarms, who is building their global headquarters across the street from the Ironbound farm in a facility that will also become be the world’s largest indoor vertical farm. AeroFarms, a for-profit company, grows herbs and greens aeroponically which uses 95% less water than conventional agriculture. They have partnered with Ironbound to do all of their local hiring for them, with 15 people already hired and 50 expected by the end of the year.
Thanks to all who came out and made this day such a tremendous success!
See below for pictures from the tour.