Jersey Give Back Guide: NOFA-NJ

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Throughout December, we are highlighting each of the organizations featured in our Jersey Give-Back Guide, an online portal for year-end giving that makes it easy to donate to some of New Jersey’s most effective nonprofits. Today we feature NOFA-NJ

Environment2Organization name: Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ)

Website: www.nofanj.org

Twitter/Facebook: @nofanj and www.facebook.com/nofanj

Communities served: Farmers, gardeners, consumers, policy-makers

Founded: 1985 

Make a year-end donation: Click here

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Photo by Christian Schuller/HappyCamperCreative.com

WHAT WE DOThe Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NJ) is a network of farmers, gardeners, policy-makers, and consumers dedicated to supporting sustainable food and agriculture in New Jersey through education, technical assistance, and policy action.

We offer educational courses and workshops for everyone from the experienced organic farmer to the consumer shopping at farm markets and grocery stores. Topics include: Exploring the Small Farm Dream, Permaculture Design Certificate, Living an Organic Lifestyle, Organic Gardening, Farmer Twilight Meetings, intern and apprentice field days, and more. Our courses run throughout the year and are highlighted by our annual Winter Conference, the premiere sustainable food and farming event in New Jersey.

To increase the productivity and reach of small-scale, sustainable farms in New Jersey, we offer technical assistance to farmers including those who are certified organic, practicing sustainable methods, or transitioning to more sustainable practices. With on-farm visits, consultations, and support, we help our member farms conserve their natural resources and make the most of what their land can offer. 

WHY WE’RE GREAT: With a grant from the USDA in 2011, we were able to launch the Beginning Farmer Program, a comprehensive support system for beginning farmers in New Jersey. The Beginning Farmer Program provides business planning training, experiential education, land linkage services, and technical assistance in order to increase the number of viable sustainable farms in the region. Qualified beginning farmers can receive stipends for educational courses and materials, scholarships to our annual Winter Conference, mentorship and land access assistance.

Over the course of the three-year grant period, we’ve educated hundreds of beginning farmers on subjects ranging from organic disease management and poultry processing to tractor safety and the business of farming at our workshops and conferences. NOFA-NJ helps support new farm businesses through our Incubator Farm and Journeyperson Programs.

The NOFA-NJ Annual Winter Conference has over 500 attendees and more than 60 classes. Over the last 3 years more than 400 hours were spent consulting on technical issues; 11 beginning farmers were connected with mentors; three landowners were connected with new farming businesses; three beginning farmer courses were offered: Exploring the Small Farm Dream, Tilling the Soil of Opportunity, and Road to Certification; and over 50 workshops and field days were held for beginning farmers. All of this is just one part of what we do at NOFA-NJ! We also offer organic gardening and permaculture programs, organize member farm tours, sponsor film screenings, give presentations on organic food, health, and GMOS, and work to affect changes in public policy. NOFA-NJ has been very active in educating the public on organic food and farming over the past year presenting at a variety of panels, film screenings, and events.

NOFA-NJ has been involved in over seven speaking engagements in response to the increased demand for reliable information regarding responsible food and farming.

HOW YOUR DONATION WILL HELPToday, NOFA-NJ’s work addresses both the why and how of organic and sustainable food systems in New Jersey, and is based on the belief that it will take skilled practitioners, informed consumers, and appropriate public policies to be fully realized. We believe that truly sustainable agriculture is organic and addresses the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the food system.

Demands for our educational programs and services have greatly increased in the last two years as awareness about the food we eat and the importance of local, organic agriculture have become of greater concern to the general public. We strive to keep costs low or free any time we can, however, the rising costs of providing this increased number of programs, including personnel and benefits, is straining the organization. In addition, the funding for the Beginning Farmer Program we have endlessly worked to build over the last three years is no longer available.

We are asking for your support so we can continue to grow our programming and meet the rising demand for learning opportunities based on organic farming, gardening, and food reaching all communities in New Jersey. Your donation will help us avoid scaling back on all the amazing programs that have benefited farmers, gardeners, and consumers like you.

ADDITIONAL NEEDS: Local residents and businesses can help support continued access to local, organic food by becoming a member of NOFA-NJ, attending workshops and the 25th Annual Winter Conference (January 24-25, 2015), or making a donation of any amount through NOFA-NJ’s website or featured profile on the Jersey Give Back Guide Generosity Generator. If you’re interested in becoming more involved, NOFA-NJ has a variety of volunteer committees that are always looking for more helping hands.

— Erica Evans, NOFA-NJ Beginning Farmer Program Coordinator

GO TO THE JERSEY GIVE BACK GUIDE NOW.

The Dodge Foundation is offering $1,000 challenge grants to each of the organizations featured in the Jersey Give-Back Guide. To be eligible, each organization must receive at least 50 donations through the Guide by December 31st. Help them reach their goal and get that extra $1,000!

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