Click on the photo above to download the lease application.

The Foodshed Alliance has launched an innovative new program designed to make preserved farmland accessible to farmers at affordable long-term leases. We are now accepting applications from farmers for the 2020 growing season.

The Foodshed Alliance Sustainable Agriculture Enterprise (SAgE) program is designed to address one of the biggest challenges to New Jersey farmers—access to affordable farmland. New Jersey has the second most expensive farmland in the country, yet has preserved more of its farmland than any state in the country, about 29%.

Through this program, the Foodshed Alliance works with land trusts that hold deed-restricted farmland and facilitates farmers’ access to affordable 10-year lease agreements. Short-term leasing (usually 1 year) is the norm in New Jersey on deed-restricted farmland, and this is problematic for farmers since it inhibits investment in infrastructure and long-term improvement in soil health, critical to farmers using sustainable methods to produce food.

The application period for leases is now open. The site of the available plots is at a deed-restricted property known as Valley View Farm, located in Andover and Fredon Townships, Sussex County, between State Route 206 and County Route 519. The address is 290 Route 206 South, Newton, NJ 07860.

This preserved property has 333 acres of agricultural fields and forest, and hosts several limestone sinkhole ponds. The property contains 60 tillable acres, a functioning well and 5,000-foot frontage on Route 206 as well as hiking trails and sensitive environmental features.

The Nature Conservancy – New Jersey Chapter (TNC) is transferring ownership of the property in a cooperative partnership with Ridge and Valley Conservancy (RVC) and the Foodshed Alliance. Once the property is transferred, RVC and the Foodshed Alliance will jointly manage the property. RVC will manage the parts of the property that have conservation value and maintain the trail system. The Foodshed Alliance will manage the farmland and oversee leases to sustainable farm businesses.

The Foodshed Alliance seeks to lease individual plots (up to 10 acres each) to sustainable farm businesses at affordable rates, beginning with the 2019 growing season. Initial leases signed during the period while the land is being transferred from TNC to RVC and the Foodshed Alliance will be for two years, or until the land transfer is completed, whichever comes first. New leases will then be issued for a period of at least 10 years.

The SAgE program is open to farmers who are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and who can demonstrate solid farming experience and business plans. We are recruiting farmers in the following categories, as appropriate to the land available: diversified vegetable, fruit, flowers, herbs, layer hen, poultry (meat), swine, goat, orchards and woodland products.

“Besides facilitating the long-term leases, we envision working in partnership with the farmers in this program, providing ongoing technical assistance and facilitating synergistic and cooperative relationships with all farmers on the land,” said Kendrya Close, executive director of the Foodshed Alliance. “In addition, we will facilitate opportunities for the general public to learn about the source of food.”

Download the SAgE Information and Application for Sustainable Farm Businesses.