Summer 2017 Issue
LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER
AT THE TABLE: THE FACE OF YOUR FOOD
"Are there farms in New Jersey?”
The question hung suspended for a moment. On the table spread out before us, beautifully presented dishes featured the ﬂavors—the art—of farms by the name of Cherry Grove, Griggstown, Oak Grove Plantation, Honey Brook. The restaurant’s chef, who had been proudly describing the elements of his farm-to-table menu to our group, graciously answered the woman with a respectful nod.
“Yes, New Jersey has many wonderful farms.”
More than 9,000 farms, in fact. And, in the nation’s most densely populated state, that is no easy feat. A mere few decades ago, New Jersey was losing 3 farms a day to development. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of individuals within our Department of Agriculture and conservation groups, efforts to protect and preserve land for farming have made a major difference. New Jersey’s precious open and fertile spaces comprise some of the most valuable “real estate” in the country. We need to be vigilant in protecting our land and always stand ready to protect the other part of the equation: the farmer.
As precious as the land is the farmer. We need to know them, to look them in the eye, to understand their challenges and opportunities. Whether at a farmers’ market or a town hearing, we need to stand up and support our farmers because, truly, to know our farmer is to know our food.
In this issue, we spotlight a few of the issues that impact our farming community, including the challenges of growing the next generation of Jersey farmers (page 30). We share resources where you can learn more about supporting these initiatives (page 36) and we present our annual farmers’ market guide (page 43) to help you buy directly from farmers statewide this season.
In reviewing these pages for press, however, the pages that I ﬁnd most fascinating, starting with the portrait on our cover of Jeff Tober of Fernbrook Farms, are the ones with the faces. In my role as publisher of this magazine, I have met so many farmers and heard so many stories and have developed such an appreciation for their precious art. These are the faces of our food.
It’s easy to forget and perhaps understandable that some people may not even be aware, but, yes, there are farms in New Jersey. Make sure you know our farmers and that you support them in some way each and every day. I hope this issue helps you ﬁnd the way.
-Nancy Brannigan Painter, Publisher