The Foodshed Alliance has been selected to participate in Farmland Advisors New Jersey, an advanced training program for professionals working actively with farmers to access land and successfully transfer farmland to the next generation.

New farmers face substantial barriers in New Jersey, especially when it comes to finding land. New Jersey has the second highest farmland prices in the nation, making it difficult for beginning farmers to find suitable land at a price they can afford. Opportunities to lease appropriate farmland under secure conditions can often be difficult to find. At the same time, farm transfer within or outside a family can be complicated due to family, business, legal and tax hurdles.

The multi-year training program will be coordinated by American Farmland Trust, a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land.

Kendrya Close, executive director of the Foodshed Alliance, was one of 15 participants selected to participate in the Farmland Advisors New Jersey program from a pool of qualified applicants from across the state. Participants include Cooperative Extension educators, land trust staff, agricultural service providers and other professionals working with farmers and farmland owners. Farmland Advisors addresses this challenge through a series of progressive learning and networking opportunities, including webinars, in-person workshops, and peer-to-peer exchanges about issues pertaining to accessing and transferring farmland.

“When we published the Regional Foodshed Resiliency Plan in 2015, land access was identified as one of the biggest challenges to the farming and local food sectors in New Jersey,” said Kendrya Close, executive director, Foodshed Alliance. “More than two years ago, we began convening groups throughout New Jersey to discuss this issue and we contacted American Farmland Trust about their very successful land access program in the Hudson Valley, which we are now in the process of replicating here in New Jersey.”

“The transition of farmland from one generation to the next is a time when the land is most vulnerable,” says David Haight, vice president for Programs for American Farmland Trust. “With nearly a quarter of New Jersey’s farmland set to change hands in the coming years, it’s critical to build capacity across the state to support transitions that keep this land in farming. We are excited to engage an impressive network of professionals from across the state to further their efforts in addressing the challenges that farmers and landowners face in making their land available for a new generation of farmers.”

The Farmland Advisors will be trained to help farmers with personal and business goal-setting, assessing financial readiness, understanding land tenure options, finding available farmland, assessing farm property suitability, farm leasing and purchasing farmland and participating in farm succession planning.

The Farmland Advisors New Jersey participants include:
• Cali Alexander, M.A., H.O.
• Gillian Armstrong, agricultural resource specialist, New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee
• Amanda Brockwell, director of programs and outreach, Monmouth Conservation Foundation
• Kendrya Close, executive director, Foodshed Alliance
• Katherine Coyle, director, Morris County Agriculture Development Board
• Gabi Grunstein, agricultural service provider
• Adrian Hyde, executive director, NOFA-NJ
• Tara Kenyon, principal, Kenyon Planning, LLC
• David Kimmel, agricultural resource specialist, New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee
• Melanie Mason, agriculture resource specialist, Hunterdon County
• Jennifer Matthews, program associate I, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cumberland and Cape May County
• Meredith Melendez, agricultural agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County
• Rebecca Szotak, program associate II, Agriculture, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Camden County
• Laura Tessieri, associate director, North Jersey Resource Conservation & Development Council
• Edward Wengryn, research associate, New Jersey Farm Bureau

Farmland Advisors New Jersey is being coordinated by American Farmland Trust in partnership with Duke Farms, Farm Credit East, Foodshed Alliance, Kittatinny Mountain Farm, Monmouth Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, New Jersey Farm Bureau, New Jersey State Agriculture Development Committee, NOFA-NJ, and Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

This program is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program under subaward number ENE18-152-32231, and also through funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and members of the American Farmland Trust.

To learn more about Farmland Advisors New Jersey program and participants, please visit www.farmland.org/njadvisors, or contact Erica Goodman at egoodman@farmland.org.