Foodshed Alliance announces grant

AFP Correspondent

HOPE — At a cocktail party early in May, the officers and trustees of the non-profit Foodshed Alliance revealed they received a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to start the process of developing a Regional Foodshed Resiliency Plan.
Executive Director Kendrya Close distributed a list of items covered by the grant to those enjoying local and organic hor d’oerves at The Inn at Millrace Pond.
The grant enables the Foodshed Alliance to gather data to map the current food system in the North Jersey region, defined for the purposes of the grant as Sussex, Warren, Morris, Passaic, Bergen, Essex and Hudson counties.
According to a press release issued by Project Manager Lisa Kelly, “the study will identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and needs affecting northern New Jersey’s food system.”
The Foodshed Alliance sought the grant after seeing the infrastructure to support farming turning more to centralized corporate conglomerates, Kelly’s press release explains.
“Because of the lack of infrastructure for food processing and distribution, much of the usable farmland in northern New Jersey is not being used to produce food that can feed our local communities,” Kelly said.
Close explained the grant will fund “reaching out to farmers, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, health food stores, food pantries, food processors, food wholesalers, food-hub developers, farm suppliers, country and municipal policy makers and land-use officials.”
According to the hand-out Close distributed at the party, the alliance will map current conditions in land under cultivation, preserved farmland and farmland owned by nonprofits and government agencies, farmland soil class in relation to crop suitability, location of both farms selling to markets and the markets, as well as farmers interested in new markets and those using organic, sustainable or transitional methods.
The alliance will also document what may be standing in the way of strengthening northern New Jersey’s food system, such as few new farmers, inadequate processing facilities, limited aggregation and distribution networks or resistance to organic or sustainable growing methods. The grant also fund identifying emerging opportunities.
The alliance’s team will consist of Close, Kelly, an intern and an asset mapping consultant.
The team will work with a number of stakeholders in the region, notably the Ridge and Valley Conservancy. Judy Renna, the alliance’s administrator, said the group used the conservancy’s non-profit status to get the grant.
The plan to be delivered in about a year will make recommendations for providing more opportunities for area farmers.