Save time and money by getting your urban farm off to a strong start! As with any business, there are many steps you’ll need to consider from the beginning. In addition, urban farming in New Jersey presents its own challenges, such as securing land and funding, managing neighbor relations, production capacity limitations, and rules/ordinances that vary from municipality to municipality. The links below can help you get started.
Disclaimer: This list is not exhaustive; additional resources may be available from a number of sources. Suggest a new topic, resource or comment for this page here.
You will need to develop expertise in a wide range of issues, from managing production and food safety to and operating a business and marketing.
- Rutgers Beginner Farmer Training Program
Teaches the fundamentals of farming and business, provides hands-on training in production through delivery, and offers advice as you implement your business plan.
- RU Ready 2 Garden webinar series
This popular webinar series provides in-depth information on a wide variety of crops and agriculture topics. Be sure to check out previous recordings.
- Annie’s Project New Jersey
Annie’s Project training gives New Jersey women farmers the tools to help them succeed by focusing on five areas of farm risk – marketing and pricing, production risk, financial management, human and personal risk, and legal risk.
- Rutgers Master Gardener Training Program
Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Rutgers Cooperative Extension in its mission to deliver horticulture programs and information to the general public. Anyone with an interest in gardening and a commitment to volunteer service can become a Rutgers Master Gardener. No previous education or training in horticulture is required.
Create a Business Plan
A clear business plan is critical to your farm’s viability. It will guide your start-up phase, direct growth, and provide a basis for communications around financing. Your business plan is a living document that can be adapted as your vision and situation change.
- US EPA Urban Farm Business Plan Handbook
Offers guidance for developing a business plan for the startup and operation of an urban farm. It focuses on food and non-food related cultivated agriculture. Applicable regardless of whether the farm is to be operated as a non-profit or for-profit business.
- USDA Beginner Farmer Business Plan information
Tips, processes and resources for new farm business planning.
- Iowa State University – Writing a Business Plan
ISU Extension guide to writing a business plan.
- University of Minnesota – Ag Plan
Online app for developing a farm business plan.
Test the Soil
Most urban soils are degraded and many contain harmful contaminants such as lead. Before launching your urban farm, soil testing should be performed to identify if there are contaminants that need to be addressed and any adjustments that should be made to improve soil health.
- Rutgers Soil Testing Lab
The Soil Testing Laboratory is a part of Rutgers NJAES. Located on the G. H. Cook campus in New Brunswick. It offers a wide range of chemical, mechanical, and special soil testing services.
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Turning Brownfields into Community-Supported and Urban Agriculture
The Know Before You Grow document guides users in the steps to consider when creating urban agriculture and community garden reuses in former vacant areas.
- NJDEP Site Remediation Program
Information and resources related to site remediation and links to find Licensed Site Remediation Professionals (LSRPs) and state contacts for site remediation questions.
Develop a Production Management Plan
Ensure Food Safety
Food safety is important! Learn how to properly grow, harvest and handle your produce, as well as food safety regulation required under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
- Rutgers On-Farm Food Safety
Resources and training opportunities for farm food safety in New Jersey.
- NJDA Food Safety information
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), third-party audits, and other food safety resources.
- Good Agricultural Products (GAP) Audits/certification
Voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. May be required by insurance provider.
See Additional Resources
- Important Links for Beginner Farmers – RU Ready 2 Farm Toolshed
Rutgers Cooperative Extension bulletin with many useful links on a variety of farming topics.
- NJ Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES)
NJAES provides a diverse range of research, extension, and education programs that serve the people of New Jersey. Access helpful publications and contact info for your local extension agents.
- New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA)
Access NJDA programs information, publications, news, funding opportunities and more.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture – Urban Agriculture
Information about USDA urban ag programs, services, resources, news, cooperative agreements and funding opportunities.
- USDA Urban Growers page
Information on how USDA can help urban growers and links to a wide variety of urban agriculture resources.
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) – Urban Agriculture home page
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance for assistance for urban growers in areas such as: Soil Health, Irrigation and Water Conservation, Weeds and Pests, High Tunnels.
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Urban Agriculture Toolkit
The toolkit lays out the common operational elements that most urban farmers must consider as they start up or grow their operations. It also contains a special section on resources for developing indoor growing operations, such as aquaponic facilities. For each element, the toolkit identifies technical and financial resources that have been developed by federal, state, and local partners.
- USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers information page
USDA considers anyone who has operated a farm or ranch for less than ten years to be a beginning farmer or rancher. USDA can help you get started or grow your operation through a variety of programs and services, from farm loans to crop insurance, and conservation programs to disaster assistance.
- USDA Farmers.gov Blog
Search for topics tagged with urban agriculture or other topics of interest.
Connect With Other Urban Farmers in NJ
Other farmers’ experiences, encouragement and networks can help make the journey easier and more rewarding. Links to some organizations with a extensive networks, training opportunities, community programming and/or commercial urban agriculture experience are included below.
- Farmers Sharing Knowledge webpage
Learn from experienced urban agriculture professionals in the New Jersey.
- Isles – Urban Agriculture
Isles’ addresses food access and community disinvestment in Trenton (Mercer County, NJ) by sharing urban agriculture tools, networks, training and resources that empower residents to take action.
- Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. (SAS)
Newark SAS creates generational sustainability in Newark (Essex County, NJ) through educational programs, agricultural training, and community green development initiatives.
- City Green
Urban agriculture training and community programming in Clifton (Passaic County, NJ).
Community- and sustainability-oriented commercial hydroponic farm in Hamilton (Mercer County, NJ).
- Center for Environmental Transformation (CFET)
Manages urban gardens in neighborhoods of Camden (Camden County, NJ).
- C.R.O.P.S. NJ
Involved in farmers markets, community gardens, food access advocacy, education, and a wide range of community programming in Atlantic City (Atlantic County, NJ).
- Greater Newark Conservancy – Urban Agriculture
Supports urban agriculture and offers mini-grants in Newark (Essex County, NJ).
- Urban Agriculture Cooperative
Enhances a localized food system for historically underserved growers and consumers lacking healthy food access in Newark (Essex County, NJ) including: planning operating food hubs, farmers markets, online ordering, creating new urban farms, and other special food system programs.
- Mill Creek Urban Farm & Gleaning Program
A 3-acre community farm that generates food and promotes community building for residents in Bridgeton (Cumberland County, NJ). Greenhouses, hydroponics and raised beds.
- Montclair Community Farms
Engages and educates community in Montclair (Essex County, NJ) through urban farming and affordable food access. Provides a number of community programming ideas for adults, youth, and mobile farm stands.
Connect with Professional Organizations
- NJ Agricultural Society
Its mission is to preserve and enhance agriculture, farming, and related activities and businesses in NJ through educational, informational, and promotional programs such as Learning Through Growing (school gardens) and Farmers Against Hunger.
- NJ Vegetable Growers Association
An organization to promote and encourage improvements in the production and marketing of all phases of the vegetable industry in the State of New Jersey. Hosts one of New Jersey’s largest annual agricultural conferences each winter.
- NJ Horticultural Society
A group of fruit and vegetable farmers who collaborate to improve production in the state of New Jersey. This organization seeks to foster scientific research in our industry and improve the distribution of pertinent information to growers to further their success in growing.
- Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention
The Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Convention has become the premier grower meeting in the Northeast, normally combining three days of six or more concurrent educational sessions with a large industry trade show and numerous networking opportunities.
- New Jersey Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association (Temporarily unavailable)
New Jersey Farmers’ Direct Marketing Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization that represents the interests of farmer-to-consumer direct marketers of all agricultural products.
- National Young Farmers Coalition
The National Young Farmers Coalition is a national advocacy network of young farmers fighting for the future of agriculture.