NEW JERSEY – In New Jersey’s biggest city, the “largest indoor vertical farm in the world” sits inside an enormous, 70,000-square foot facility. It produces nearly two million pounds of leafy greens and other healthy veggies per year, and its wares can be found at major retailers like ShopRite, Whole Foods, FreshDirect and AmazonFresh.
This cutting-edge setup – seen at AeroFarms’ flagship facility in Newark – is a prime example of the potential behind “urban farming,” which can include community gardens, rooftop farms, hydroponic, aeroponic/aquaponic facilities and vertical production.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce). There are many other urban farm success stories that are changing the way people think about food production in the Garden State: The Urban Farm in Morristown, City Green in Clifton, Green Acre Community Garden in Paterson.
The trend has caught the eye of several state lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, who represents Newark, East Newark and Harrison in the 29th legislative district.
Earlier this year, Ruiz and her Democratic peer, Sen. Nellie Pou (district 35) introduced S-1003, a bill that would create an “urban farming grant and loan program” in New Jersey.
The grant money could be put to work in several ways, including:
- “Facilitate the acquisition of sites in urban areas available to be used for urban farming”
- “Maintain urban farming sites”
- “Support providing agricultural products to public school cafeterias”
The proposed law would not include the cultivation of marijuana/cannabis for medicinal or any other purpose.
The program would be run by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, in consultation with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education.
The bill was referred to the Senate Economic Growth Committee for further review in January.
Ruiz first pitched the bill for the 2020-2021 session, but it never made it to the Senate floor for a full vote. A companion bill in the Assembly also never made it to a full vote.
URBAN FARMING IN NEW JERSEY
Urban farming is not a new concept in New Jersey. Catch up on some recent stories from the Garden State below.
Newark Hospital’s Famed Greenhouse Gets Visit From NJ Devils
Some of the Brick City’s healthiest, locally grown veggies are coming from a place that may come as a surprise: a hospital.
Booker, one of New Jersey’s most well-known vegans, dropped in for a visit at an urban farm in North Jersey.
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