Montclair, NJ- Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County and the Montclair Community Farms Coalition were awarded a three year U.S. Department of Agriculture Local Food Promotion Program grant to stimulate demand for local organic small grains through the sale of value- added products, and as a result strengthen the local food system and improve income and economic opportunities for NJ farmers and youth entrepreneurs. Every year, this project will lead youth through entrepreneurship projects from seed to sale that support the marketing, distribution and sale of value-added products (e.g. pizza, bread, tomato sauce, pickles and more) for sale on Montclair Community Farms Mobile Farm Stand, farmers markets, an online marketplace, and agritourism events.

This project builds upon prior work of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County (Rutgers) and the MCF Coalition (MCFC) in distributing food to the Essex County Community. This project is also an exciting collaboration with several local organizations and businesses including Ruthie’s Farm (of Ruthie’s BBQ and Pizza) and Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation. Project lead Marissa Staffen and advisor Beth Pulawski said “we are thrilled to have been awarded this grant where youth will work alongside farmers, bakers, culinary experts, and entrepreneurs, learning to grow, harvest and mill local grains and other foods, and use those food products to develop and sell products they create. These programs will marry the hands-on-components of our current programs with additional job, entrepreneurship and leadership skills and exposing youth to new career paths that they may have never been exposed to.”

The Montclair Community Farm Coalition consists of local organizations committed to engaging the community in farming, food, agricultural and nutrition education, and health. The members of the Montclair Community Farm Coalition are Montclair Department of Health and Human Services, Montclair History Center, Montclair State University, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Essex County: Department of 4-H Youth Development and Master Gardeners, and HOMECorp.