Tending the Garden State: Preserving New Jersey's Farming Legacy

By Charles H. Harrison | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 7
“Either Change
and Keep Up
or Get Out
of the Way”

The New Jersey Farm Bureau, which celebrates eighty-seven years in 2006 and occupies a nineteenth-century building across the street from the State House in Trenton, is very much twenty-first century. Peter Furey, the executive director, sat at the long table in the Bureau’s boardroom one morning and predicted that the gardens of the Garden State will survive and prosper if New Jersey farmers can make the transition from a past where they simply raised a crop and “expected someone to come along and buy it” to a future where they will “assess the marketplace, find a niche they can fill, and then go after that niche.”

What Furey and others, including Agriculture Secretary Charles Kuperus, are recommending is nothing less than a radical departure from business as usual, the usual in this case being what New Jersey farmers have practiced pretty much since they took over the land from the Leni-Lenape women four hundred years ago. For most of those centuries, Garden State farms, bountiful as they were, raised their crops primarily for purchase in bulk by the great markets of New York and Philadelphia, and, to a lesser extent,

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