We recently broke ground to a 12-acre farm at South Branch Preserve in Mount Olive, New Jersey. Although food production won’t happen in the immediate future, the brisk, autumn day was full of promise.
Through a newly formed partnership with City Green, an urban farming and environmental education non-profit, on November 2018, we celebrated the opening of City Green Farms at South Branch Preserve. This 12-acre farm will be used to cultivate organic food specifically for low-income residents in Morris and Passaic Counties who do not have direct access to a variety of fresh and locally grown organic produce.
The farm will also provide 1,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables annually to Mount Olive area food pantries. Future plans include additional acreage for a berry and fruit orchard, pollinator borders, beehives and more.
David Epstein, president of The Land Conservancy kicked off the event by sharing the background of South Branch Preserve and what it took to preserve over 400 acres that includes a community garden, wildlife blind, water monitoring station, hiking trails and now – an organic farm – to an audience of over 25 guests and local officials.
The mayor of Mount Olive Township, Robert Greenbaum was in attendance and expressed his gratitude to the two inter-related organizations and how the relationship between the Township, The Land Conservancy of New Jersey and City Green will be a productive force to provide food for low-income families that are in need.
Jennifer Papa, founder and executive director of City Green shared the importance of this partnership and although her organization has traditionally focused on urban farming work in New Jersey towns such as Clifton, Patterson, Newark and Passaic, City Green can now extend their Food Access Program to Mount Olive and Morris County through this new farm.
Members of both organizations and Township Council cut a green ribbon to officially open the farm. They then walked over to a freshly sowed field and were given packets of winter rye seeds. Together, the seeds were ceremoniously thrown to lay the first cover crop that will help protect and enrich the soil over the winter months.
Food production for City Green Farms at South Branch Preserve will begin in the spring of 2019. To watch a video of the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, please click below: