Ag in the City: Urban Agriculture in NJ

Across New Jersey, like much of the U.S., interest in urban agriculture is increasing. It takes many forms: community gardens, urban farms, farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture, school gardens and much more. Through urban agriculture, people are building community while producing food and undertaking environmental stewardship.

The Office of Agriculture and Urban Programs aims to make a state-wide assessment of urban agricultural efforts and develop public forums to share ideas and information.

Below you will find projects, videos, documents and presentations related to NJ urban agriculture.

Highlighted Project:

Carla Green

The East Orange YMCA developed its community garden in partnership with the City of East Orange to provide space for youth and families to grow fresh fruits and vegetables.  At nearly a quarter of an acre, the garden site is a warm and welcoming shared use space.  Activities include education and recreation programs for students and teachers at the adjacent Cicely Tyson School of Performing Arts, and the after-school and summer programs sponsored by ‘the Y.’
A generous gift from the New Jersey Farm Bureau allowed for the installation of a high tunnel creating opportunities for year-round cultivation.  Carla Green, pictured, is a Rutgers Cooperative Extension Master Gardener from Essex County and local resident.
Numerous local and regional stakeholders collaborated with the East Orange YMCA on the development and construction of this treasured community green space. 

Support from Rugters included faculty and staff from:
School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS)
Rutgers Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and the Rutgers V.E.T.S Program

Three Case Study Videos

New Jersey Urban Agriculture Information (click titles to link to full documents):

Integrating Re-Use of Abandoned Properties for Healthy Food Options in Trenton, New Jersey

Through a 2014 partnership between the Center for Urban Environmental Sustainability (CUES) and Isles, this project examined redevelopment potential of properties in Trenton for food-related uses. It is organized into three phases: geographic information systems (GIS) modeling; field mapping of properties; and community surveys through questionnaires and focus groups.

National Community Gardening Survey

From 2011-2012, Rutgers faculty members Laura Lawson and Luke Drake collaborated with the American Community Gardening Association to conduct a survey of organizations involved in community gardening efforts. Some 445 organizations responded to the survey, representing over 8,000 community gardens in 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight Canadian provinces. This document provides a larger perspective on national efforts and a point of comparison to study New Jersey’s efforts.

Building Gardens and Capacity with the Community Gardening Movement in New Brunswick

In 2013, through funding received from the Rutgers Community-University Research Partnership, Rutgers Landscape Architecture faculty and students partnered with members of the New Brunswick Community Garden Coalition to develop design proposals and implement improvements to the Shiloh Community Garden, Jardín de Esperanza, and Archibald Community Garden.

Gardening the Garden State

In 2013, a group of students from the Department of Landscape Architecture conducted a series of case studies of community gardens in New Jersey. Sites ranged from West Milford in North Jersey to Moorestown in South Jersey. This was an initial exploration that helped shed light on the diversity of community gardens in the state.

Ag + Landscape Colloquium

This annual course taught by Holly Nelson explores different aspects of agriculture in the state. In 2013, the class conducted case studies of multiple urban garden efforts. In 2015, the class conducted case studies of urban school gardens in New Jersey.

Ag+Landscape: The Community Behind the Garden

2015 Class Booklet: Urban School Gardens: FoodCorps Case Studies

Urban School Garden Diagrams

Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe

This site provides practical insights for farmers, communities, and policy makers looking to maintain thriving, healthy, durable farms in New Jersey's densely packed urban fringe. The Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe Newsletter Archive is also a helpful resource.

New Jersey Master Gardeners Program

A program of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension, the Master Gardener program provides education and training in gardening 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.

Presentations (click titles to link to presentations):

Best Management Practice for Community Gardens: Examples from Urban, Suburban, and Rural New Jersey

This presentation at the 2013 American Community Gardening Association conference includes additional materials contributed by audience members after the presentation.

Best Management Practices for Community Gardens

This document is based on a presentation given in 2013 at the New Jersey Community Garden Conference, Ferlinghuysen Arboretum.

A Brief History of Urban Garden Programs in the United States

This presentation summarizes the history of urban gardening in the United States. It is based on the book, City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America, by Laura Lawson (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).