In February, 20 growers representing eight counties across New Jersey conducted a fruitful meeting with 10 Rutgers Cooperative Extension specialists and agents of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES). Held at Terhune Orchards in Princeton, NJ, the meeting was designed as a forum to discuss organic agriculture in New Jersey and to highlight the needs of organic farmers as well as the resources available from NJAES to support the industry.
At the meeting, which also served to reinvigorate key players, identify farmers’ needs and outline future actions, Rutgers NJAES personnel presented recent research developments, including the launch of a new website for weed control in organic vegetable production systems.
In addition, farmers were provided important updates on stink bug research, integrated pest management, food safety, pepper variety trials, disease forecasting and agritourism best management practices.
Jack Rabin, director of farm programs at NJAES, actively engaged farmers at the meeting, inviting them to outline their needs in order for NJAES personnel to proactively respond throughout the growing season. Farmers identified the need for pesticide applicator training sessions for organic producers. The first applicator pesticide training for organic producers is scheduled for April 9 at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County. Anyone interested can contact Meredith Melendez at Melendez@aesop.rutgers.edu.
New Jersey farmers, both organic and conventional, routinely call upon Rutgers county agricultural agents whenever they spot potential problems on their farms. In order to make information from such farm visits more widely available to farmers, Rabin and county agents work together to write “Organic Farm Calls” posts for the Sustaining Farming on the Urban Fringe blog. These posts provide relevant and up-to-date information to help farmers sustain their organic operations.
Several other Rutgers resources are available to farmers, including the recently released 2014 edition of the Rutgers Commercial Vegetable Production Recommendations for New Jersey. The recommendations include a wide range of information on cultural practices, which are beneficial to both organic and conventional farmers in their battle to control insects and diseases that impact their operations.