More people in New Jersey are opting for locally grown organic food
With more than 80 registered and certified organic farms and approximately 4,000 acres of organic farmland in New Jersey, according to the National Survey of Agricultural Statistics, organic produce has seen a boom in demand in recent years.
Organic is unique in how it interacts with the ecology of the farm and the surrounding environment, said Devin Cornia, new executive director of New Jersey’s Northeast Organic Farming Association.
Organic farming attempts to imitate nature and natural processes when growing crops. Farmers seek to conserve natural resources on farmland.
If done right, organic farming proves more resilient in the long run, Cornia said. Farmers fight fewer uphill battles, making nature work with them, and then nature starts working for them if they invest in the health of nature around them, including soil, pollinators, habitat, etc. .
Cornia said the Rodale Institute, located in eastern Pennsylvania, is leading the way in organic farming research. Over time, organic crops are more resilient, yields are higher, but it takes a few years to really invest in the land, soil and ecosystem before you can reap these benefits.
More and more people are interested and investing in organic products. Cornia said people are much better educated today.
“Organic itself has grown tremendously and what we have to worry about at NOFA is local organic. There’s a lot of organic out there, but we want everyone to support their local communities, their farmers premises and go to his farmer’s market,” he added.
When people buy organic, they are making a conscious health choice by putting better foods into their bodies. But it’s so much nicer to see the local farmer at the farmer’s market every weekend, knowing that the money stays invested in that community.
“To me, that’s the real meaning of organic. It’s in your neighborhood and it cleans up your community,” Cornia said.
Cornia said most organic farms in New Jersey are cropland, so vegetable and fruit crops. There are a few organic dairy farms in the state, but he said it’s more northeast and western. The second most popular form of organic land use in New Jersey is grazing. He said that means a lot of hay and cattle.
It’s always best for residents to get involved in their food community. Cornia said if they want to participate in their health, they should know where their food comes from and who grows it.
“The more we all participate in the food system, the more we all demand that our food be clean, organically grown, sustainably harvested with respect for the environment we live in, we are going to see a better future,” , Cornia said.
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