Number of Farms Increasing

>> Saturday, November 20, 2010

With the future of farming seeming to be in jeopardy we learn some good news from New Jersey.

From flowers to vineyards, the state is seeing a spurt of new small operations, even as New Jersey loses more farmland each year to development.

A new trend in farming, called Boutique farming, allows farmers to go directly to customers to survive.

New Jersey lost a higher percentage of farmland to development than any other state between 1982 and 2007, a survey this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Farmland Trust shows.

It seems that people today are more concerned with buying their food from neighboring farmers they know and trust. This enlightened trend is allowing more farmers to realize a better return for their investment.

Also, the local-food movement works under the philosophy that consumers, wherever possible, should buy fresh fruits and vegetables and other goods where they are grown.

Another trend that is helping growers is referred to as entertainment farming, i.e., corn mazes, hayrides and events. This form of agricultural tourism is being embraced by farmers everywhere because it helps some farms to extend their season and keep more of their workers employed longer.

Farmers also sometimes lease access rights to hunters or environmental groups as a means of increasing revenue.

Despite losing acreage, New Jersey added 400 farms between 2002 and 2007.

“During the last census, we had over 10,000 farms in New Jersey for the first time since the 1960s,” says New Jersey Farm Bureau spokeswoman Pegi Adam. “We’re seeing smaller, more specialized farms, growing a diverse array of things that appeal to niche populations.”

Some growers are catering to the organic market and more foreign influences, with Asian or African vegetables such as yu choy. The state still boasts a variety of farm products.

Long live the Farm!


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