NEXT AMERICAN CITY
AN ISSUE ABOUT FARMS AND CITIES POPULATION AND SUBURBIA THE FUTURE OF FARMING IN NEW JERSEY
RE DESIGN ISSUE ONE
NEXT AMERICAN CITY AN ISSUE ABOUT FARMS AND CITIES AND POPULATION AND GROWING UP AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE FUTURE OF FARMING IN NEW JERSEY
editor-in-chief Terry Eiler
executive producer Cayce Clifford
content producer Cayce Clifford
ON THE COVER A residential community covers a hillside in Philipsburg, New Jersey.
editorial board Terry Eiler Matt Adams Mitch Casey Samantha Goresh Madeline Gray Heather Haynes Darcy Holdorf Wendy Junru-Huang Jim McAuley Maddie McGarvey Rebecca Miller Patrick Oden Joel Prince Becca Quint Bryan Thomas Priscilla Thomas Wayne Thomas Patrick Traylor Anita Vizireanu Emine Ziyatdinova
3 Editorâ€™s Note
*Many thanks to all of the subjects. Without them, this publication would not have been possible.
7 Manufacturing the Garden State 9 A Place to Call Home 20 Gardening a Future
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
I grew up in a classic suburban development from the 60s made up of medium-sized houses with acre lots and streets named after the developers’ children. I could ride my bike in any direction and be surrounded by farmland in just a few minutes.
When my sister and I became interested in joining 4H, my dad, whose closest connection to animals was his 8 siblings, reluctantly built a barn-red chicken coop in our backyard. At age 10, I was teaching alpacas to jump hurdles, showing livestock at my county 4H fair and hand raising market lambs and chickens. From our 18 chickens we collected small brown eggs and were the talk of the neighborhood for our makeshift farm. “Did you hear, the Clifford’s have sheep?!”
Upon returning home from my first few months away at college, I began to see things that I never noticed as a child. As the hit reality television show Jersey Shore reached 8.8 million viewers and my hometown replaced their historic fairgrounds with a 470,000 sq ft Walmart Supercenter, my vision of home changed drastically.
All of a sudden my family found itself edged between suburbia and the rural town to which we moved to escape the city. It wasn’t only the developments that grew. With them came new stores, new schools, new roads and new traffic. All of it in the name of the American dream. It wasn’t until I met a 102-year-old farmer that I was able to put things into perspective. During one of our conversations, she turned to me and said, “Oh, you live in those new developments. My husband used to farm that land.” I hated all of the new homes that had been popping up year after year, but I never stopped to think that my home, even in the 60s, was once a new development. The yard that I played in as a child was once the stomping ground for hundreds of cows; the soil tilled for corn and hay.
In a mere matter of years, I wasn’t able to reach the farms by bike. Sandwiched as the armpit between New York City and Philly, with seven of the ten most densely populated cities in the country, what had happened to the green place that I once imagined? Why had New Jersey been called the Garden State?
I knew that I had to make this realization into a calling for my latest body of photographic work. My family was a part of the development and destruction of the farmland. How could I have grown up so innocent? Putting all of my eggs in one basket, I returned home to discover what I had been missing.
Manufacturing the Garden State Unearthing the roots of New Jersey’s land use. In 1629, the Dutch West India Company crossed the Hudson River to New Netherland, now present day Bergen,
to these servicemen and their families, the families began to
New Jersey, in hopes of developing agriculturally-centered
move out of their small city apartments to the ‘country.’ Without
communities. Based on the thriving gardens of the Leni-
any foresight into smart land use practices, in the twenty years
Lenape tribeswomen, the settlers focused their efforts on
between 1940 and 1960, New Jersey lost 470,000 acres of
making this Bergen land their own, pushing the natives and
farmland to newly developed neighborhoods. In the blink of
their traditional methods out, and bringing their families to
an eye, merely ten years after this, another 409,000 acres was
settle on ‘their’ fertile land. These new settlers brought with
developed. The exodus from the city to the suburb would be
them their native plants, attracting more and more farming
a continuing dream for many Americans. New Jersey became
families to the area. New Jersey became an important hub
the prime example of this, being an attractive state for families
for the distribution of fruits and vegetables, beef, grain, pork,
and working citizens in New York City and Philadelphia.
horses and many other manufactured goods to the governing regions of New York City and Philadelphia. As New Jersey led the nation into the industrial revolution,
Jersey and was stamped into every new license plate. Though Congress members argued that the majority of citizens in New Jersey did not regard their state as an agricultural hub, the
polluted surrounding farmland, but the increase in population
residents disagreed. A 1955 article in Time Magazine named the northern New
their production to feed the new mouths. In fact, many of
Jersey Seabrook Farms, The Biggest Vegetable Factory on
the new industrial products were significant in the push
Earth. Arguably the first agribusiness in the United States,
away from small-scale agriculture and towards modernized
Seabrook Farms employed 7,000 national and international
farming. In 1834, miles of canal systems were built through
workers and focused its huge vegetable production on the
New Jersey allowing farmers to transport their agricultural
frozen foods market, packaging and shipping more than
goods in three days, weeks less than wagons allowed, from
45,000 acres of vegetables per year. In a devastating turn for
the greater Philadelphia region up to New York City.
the worse, as if it were a signal of the future of farming in New
New Jersey took its next step in agricultural modernization
Jersey, Seabrook Farms announced that it was closing its
when, in 1848, a Pennsylvania man discovered the power
operation in 1982. This frozen vegetable empire, once referred
of commercially canning vegetables. From then on, canning
to as the most successful mass producer of vegetables in
and preserving operations would, as New Jersey author and
the country, fell to the demise of bad business and poor
historian Charles Harrison put it, “dictate what New Jersey
management. Soon after, other production companies began
farmers would grow for the next 100 years and what the
moving west and south, where longer growing seasons and
world would eat.”
reduced operating expenses allowed them to lower costs and
President Roosevelt created a new future for all Americans when he signed the G.I. Bill of Rights for
In 1954, the Garden State became the official title for New
manufacturing spread like wildfire around the state. Factories of immigrant factory workers forced many farmers to increase
home from war. Because of the incentives that were given
heighten profits. Since then, the development of farmland has increased with
servicemen returning from World War II. To avoid a total
each year. As family farmers age and less land is available
collapse of the United States’ economy, the G.I. Bill of Rights
for agriculture, New Jersey struggles to keep hold of its
promised monetary help for veterans to cope after returning
Henry Kuhl holds a rooster at the Flemington Fair in 1952. In 1902 the Kuhl family started a prominent poultry product distribution business that continues to operate in Flemington, NJ. The Flemington Fairgrounds is now a Walmart Supercenter.
A PLACE TO CALL
HOME The Readington River Buffalo Companyâ€™s farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
With seven of the ten most densely populated cities in America, is New Jersey still the agricultural center that it once was?
ost people donâ€™t regard New Jersey as the important agricultural
center that it is. With 5.5 million acres and 8 million people, the
third smallest of the 50 states is seen as a dirty and densely
populated gateway to New York City. Contrary to these beliefs, New Jersey has vast rural areas in the southern Pine Barrens region, where 1.1 million acres of forested land has been designated a International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations, as well as the north where the Delaware River meets the base of the Appalachian Trail. New Jersey contains some of the best recreation in the region, offering 217 miles of Jersey Shore beaches, lakes, mountains, preserved open space and expansive forests. In 1978, the USDAâ€™s New Jersey State Agricultural Overview reported 7,984 farms on 987,309 acres. In 2007, the same report showed an increase to 10,300 farms but a decrease in land coverage to 730,000 acres. Two years ago, the main crops produced included corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, potatoes, sweet potatoes and a wide variety of fruits and other vegetables.
A cattle pasture is disturbed by an electrical grid in Neshanic Station, NJ.
An aerial photograph of a high density neighborhood in Philipsburg, New Jersey.
Brian Fischer, a friend of the Fulper dairy farmers, has worked at the farm for a year, milking almost 160 cows at 4:30 AM and again at 3:30 PM.
A Hunterdon County farm lies directly across the street from a new development.
“From 1955 to 2002 New Jersey was converting its agricultural, forested and open space to urban and residential land at the rate of 10,000 acres per year.” -Rutgers University, 2003 The Rutgers University Measuring Urban Growth in New Jersey reported in 2003 that from 1955 to 2002 New Jersey was converting its agricultural, forest-covered and open space to urban and residential cover at the rate of 10,000 acres per year. It is no wonder that the majority of the United States thinks of New Jersey as a web of turnpikes and row houses as it contains 7 of the 10 most densely populated cities in the country, four of them ranking in the first four spots. The number one most densely populated city is Guttenberg, NJ with approximately .19 miles of land and a population density of 57,000 people per mile. The town, once a single farm, was sold in 1853 and subdivided into plots of land for the increasing population of New Yorkers. The Kanach farm in Hunterdon County is a third generation, 80-acre farm that produces sunflowers, wheat and hay. Eighty years ago, when Stella Kanach moved to the dairy farm with her newly wedded husband, she says, “I was a city girl! We didn’t even have running water here.” The Kanach’s started their dairy business milking by hand in the barn every morning. Stella used to take her children out of the house and into the cow barn with her in a laundry basket because their home was unheated and too cold for the babies on frigid winter mornings. Families like the Kanachs still operate in some places in New Jersey, but now more than ever, these operations are in danger of disappearing. Just down the road, Fred Van Dorn and his 95-yearold mother are the last of a long line of dairy farmers. At 62-years-old, Fred is worn from years of hard labor. On a farm, there are no holidays. Fred’s cows have to be milked or they will get sick. Like his health, the farm is slowly declining. A rolling pasture lies before a suburban backdrop. “We are so lucky,” he says as he glances toward the home that his farming father built 52 years earlier, “We’re the only ones left.” Year after year Fred watched as the farmland surrounding their home was dug into the foundations of suburban housing developments, acre by acre. Fred and his mother fear the worst for their farm; when Fred gone, there is no one left to continue the operation.
GARDENING A FUTURE How agritourism, urban gardening and small scale agriculture are fueling the future of New Jersey’s agriculture
ess than 24 hours after I arrived home, I found myself knocking on the steamy glass plates of Lorraine Gibbons’ hydroponic greenhouse operation in Orange, New Jersey. Though the middle of the winter, this green space was a site for sore eyes as its painted murals and pointed greenhouse roof stuck out against the cream-colored row houses lining the surrounding block. Lorraine welcomed me into the warm room where the earthy musk filled my lungs and I knew I had come to the right place to find the future of New Jersey farms. Garden State Urban Farms was officially opened in 2009 as a tool to introduce urban schoolchildren to agriculture and to supply restaurants and farmers’ markets with fresh local vegetables; therefore creating economic incentives and health benefits within the local sphere. Operating in several empty lots and greenhouse spaces, the ‘farm’ grows numerous types of vegetables and herbs. The northern New Jersey Arthur & Friends NORWESCAP non-profit program, a collaborating partner with Garden State Urban Farms, was started in 2008 as a training center and employment program for disabled adults, troubled youth and ex-offenders. Lindsey, an ex-offender and struggling father, says he comes to the greenhouse for a breath of fresh air from his anger and rushed city life, “This place heals you, man. You come here, and you don’t want to leave.” The three hydroponic greenhouse locations, including Lorraine’s greenhouse, sustainably grow about 10 different types of leafy greens, selling them at farmers markets and to local restaurants. The dirtless, hydroponicallygrown vegetables use about 70% to 90% less water than conventional farming, recirculating the water through the plants’ exposed root systems. In downtown Newton, Andre’s Restaurant & Wine Boutique is noted as an elegant restaurant with a unique European-styled menu boasting the finest five course meals; Pan Roasted Local Chicken, NY Strip Steak and Foie Gras, prepared on a whim, all topped with local greenery. At the heart of this expensive dining is Andre De Waal, owner and chef. Andre stresses sustainability in his restaurant and purchases any and all of the vegetables that are available at local greenhouses, including those that house the Arthur & Friends programs. For Andre, and many other restaurant owners in the area, hydroponically produced vegetables are more attractive, as their growing season is 12 months per year.
TOP TO BOTTOM Sixth graders at St. Philip’s Academy in Newark, New Jersey harvest greens from their aeroponic classroom garden. Gerry and his son, Erik, run the 230 acre Readington River Buffalo Company. The Arthur & Friends hydroponic greenhouse grows numerous leafygreen vegetables throughout the year. Cheese maker Jonathan White hosts a guided farm tour each Saturday. White offers samples of his products and talks about the rewards of owning and operating a farm.
Lorraine Gibbons carries a hose from an urban garden in Newark to her car. The garden lies across the street from Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and has a weekly farmers market during the summer and fall.
Early on Monday morning, I parked my car in front of a burnt out office building and walked along a barbed wire fence to the front of St. Philip’s Academy in downtown Newark. At first glance, the school is plain, but upon entering the front door, you are greeted by brightly colored walls and plants sprouting from every corner. St. Phillips Academy has taken urban gardening and sustainability far beyond the confines of their rooftop garden. Though the school is just a stone’s throw from Manhattan, they base their entire multidimensional curriculum on a program called EcoSpaces. The program offers learning through an indoor aeroponic garden, solar panels, the first LEED designed space in Newark, as well as cooking and sustainability lessons to their students. The school was recognized by CNN and was awarded for its excellence in providing students with healthier and greener choices and was called a school that ‘justifies
New Jersey as the Garden State’ by the New York Times. St. Phillips has partnered with Aero Farm Systems LLC to create an aeroponic vegetable garden. Like hydroponics, the system is dirt-less, but where the roots would be soaked in a constant drain of water, they are instead continually misted with fine drops of water and nutrients. Aeroponics uses about 65% less water than hydroponics and has become of increasing interest to NASA as they test and develop food production in space. The company’s managing partner, Richard Charles is excited about the future technologies of food production in limited space, “You go to the store and get your cattle and three floors up is a farm - that coexistence should be normal - it’s inevitable.” He and his partners have been working on small scale projects that encourage food production in urban space. The company stresses the importance of food security in our quickly developing world.
Brothers Mark and Jason Brenner hold chickens during their school day at Fernbrook Farms Education Center in Bordentown, New Jersey. The 230-acre working farm hosts a number of activities, including farm-day classes for home school students each Thursday.
The most exciting part about the school day at St. Philip’s Academy is lunchtime. Grade by grade, the children run down the steps to the basement-level kitchen passing handmade signs that shout healthy living practices and balanced meals. During the ‘family-style’ lunch, each student is responsible for a certain job depending on their assigned seat. These chores range from water pourer, to table clean up, even to the job of fork distributor. Rather than vending machine snacks and fast food, the meal that is provided for students at St. Philip’s is all made from scratch and a part of a closed-loop food system that begins at the rooftop and aeroponic gardens; none of the children are allowed to bring food from home. The crops that are grown in St. Philip’s are utilized in the salad bar and in cooking classes to aid as an agricultural teaching tool. All of the food scraps from lunch are composted
LEFT Farm fresh eggs are ready to be bought at a farmers market in Newton, New Jersey. NEXT PAGE Wendie Blanchard fixes a leaking hose at the Arthur & Friends nonprofit greenhouse in Newton, New Jersey. Wendie started the hydroponic program in 2008 as a training and employment center for individuals with disabilities.
ABOVE Students line up before lunch at St. Philips Academy. RIGHT Sean Mooney and Kyle Dedroat ‘plant’ seeds in the foam starter for the Arthur & Friends hydroponic greenhouse operation in Newton, NJ.
and turned into new soil for future use. On that particular Monday, the girls’ basketball team was giving out high-fives to the second graders that ate all of their broccoli. There are an increasing number of schools and farms in New Jersey that are implementing small-scale agriculture and sustainable practices into their curriculum. The thirdgeneration, 230 acre working Fernbrook Farm and Education Center in Bordentown, New Jersey started offering schoolto-farm field trips, home school classes, guided tours and outreach programs in the local community in 2001. The staff of teachers and farmers stress the importance of a hands on education and often go on farm-wide hikes with their touring groups. They want the younger generations to become responsible stewards of local sustainability and understand that food doesn’t come from the grocery store. Many farmers are expanding their farms to include agritourism. Nina and Jonathan White opened the Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse in June 2010. This Milford, New Jersey location has only been farmed by two families since the American Revolution and in 2010 when the last generation
died off, the land could have turned into 85 houses. Jonathan and his family purchased the development rights to the property, which will protect the farm from future development. The White family moved in their 100 cattle and restarted their sustainable dairy business, providing fine cheeses, bread and milk to Hunterdon County. Jonathan White is proud of his farm and boasts that their operation is a rare case of preserved farmland being used as land to feed people. Bobolink Dairy offers $5 guided farm tours every Saturday and Sunday attracting between 100 and 300 people per day. The farm tour, run by Jonathan or one of his farm hands, is a walk through the Whiteâ€™s milking parlor, creamery, bakery, cheese cave and outdoor trail hike. The end of the tour stops in the bake house, where people can purchase grass-fed beef, taste-test specialty homemade cheeses, farm fresh eggs and other seasonal items. Though the future prospective of large-scale family farming are quickly declining, there is hope for small-scale food producers and greenhouse initiatives. Unfortunately,
up-and-coming farmers need to do more than just sell the commodities that they produce; they need to be innovative business men and women who utilize teaching tools to encourage younger generations to learn about their food. We are rapidly moving into a world where a handful of large-scale corporations are the only ones producing food. It is of utmost importance to revive our local economies with small scale agriculture and farmersâ€™ markets. There is hope for the future of farming and the future of New Jersey. As the population begins to see the importance of their land and the fragility of the food that they depend on to sustain their families, there is hope that we will be able to move forward (or, in a way, backward). The possibilities are endless for small-scale food production. If my family could raise 3 sheep, 18 chickens, a dog, a cat, a fish and a hermit crab and have a tomatopumping garden all on one acre, just imagine the impact that each household could have.
Published on Mar 14, 2012
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