Food, Farms and the Environment
The Foodshed Alliance is a nonprofit organization working to build a local and resilient food system in northern New Jersey to provide our region with plentiful healthy local food and to protect our environment by promoting farming that primarily uses organic or natural growing methods. Many of the small, family farms in northern New Jersey still use conventional pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. Unfortunately, these conventional methods deplete our soils of vital nutrients, encourage topsoil erosion, and may contaminate poison our waterways through runoff. The Foodshed Alliance’s mission is to promote the health of our food system, not only to make abundant, healthy foods available in our region, but also to promote the health and sustainability of our land and water that so generously supports our food system.
- Over the past few decades, the infrastructure to support farming and regional access to consumers has been largely co-opted by centralized corporate conglomerates. Producing wholesome food on the local/regional level has been replaced by the “super-sized” food distribution system, reducing the competitive value for local producers and consumers alike.
- The level of public awareness for consumers of the value of resilient food production has dissipated due to the ease of access and low cost of mass-produced and marketed goods.
- The ability to aggregate and distribute locally produced foods within the region is challenged by the lack of open infrastructure and distribution network. Because of the lack of distribution infrastructure, much of the usable farmland in northern New Jersey is not being used to produce food that can feed our local communities. Much of it produces commodity crops that are shipped to great distances for processing.
- Most farmers practicing sustainable and organic methods and artisan food producers do not have the time and/or ability to produce shelf stable, value added items that compete for retail store shelf space.
- Underserved populations in northern New Jersey are most dramatically impacted by the shrinking market share of local farming and food production. Challenges include access to fresh food and cost.
The Foodshed Alliance works to answer the following Essential Questions:
- Who is interested in sustainable farming and what assistance do they need?
- Can a concerted effort to offer education and assistance about sustainable farming methods result in the conversion of additional farmland in the region to sustainable agriculture?
- Which crops that can be grown in our region are most compatible with its soils and climate and which have the greatest potential to satisfy existing and expanding market opportunities?
- How can the Foodshed Alliance help establish and promote a regional food hub(s) in northern New Jersey?
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