HILLSBOROUGH: Ribbon will be cut on ‘incubator’ farms

Duke Farms hosts small-farmer "starter" program

   The non-profit Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey will launch its new-farmer training program on Saturday, Oct. 13, with an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at Duke Farms, the location of the new incubator farm.
  ”New businesses require start-up capital and farming is no exception,” said Eve Minson, the program manager. “”The Center for Working Lands project provides parcels of land to beginning farmers, allowing them to launch their business with less upfront cash. The project is located on more than 60 acres at Duke Farms, and includes deer fencing, barn space and assistance with field preparation.
   Each accepted applicant can receive educational stipends and up to 10 acres to operate their farm. The farmer has three to five years to build financial records, firm up a business plan and seek financing.
   ”We are so lucky to have grant support and a wonderful partner in Duke Farms,” Ms. Minson said, “but we still have significant capital needs. Irrigation costs, a wash stand for post-harvest handling and a cooler for proper produce storage are just three major components that are not funded. We’ve reached out to the community through a Kickstarter campaign, which will relieve a significant financial burden, if successful.”
   Kickstarter is an Internet funding platform that allows anyone to contribute to a project — from $1 to thousands of dollars. If a funding goal is not reached by its deadline, the project receives none of the pledged funds. NOFA-NJ reports more than 50 supporters so far, with the goal of gathering at least 300.
   The Oct. 13 open house is an educational field day that will cover gardening and farming areas like home food preservation, pollinator-friendly practices and soil care. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with presentations held every half-hour, and ends with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Registration is free.
   Details are available at www.nofanj.org.
   The Kickstarter campaign can be viewed at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1039236244/the-nofa-nj-beginner-farmer-incubator.