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New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey

October 27th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey)

New Agricultural Ventures

NOFA – NJ Twilight Meeting

At North Slope Farm

Audio Files and Index

October 26, 2010

  • Chickadee Creek Farm, Jess Nierderer
    • First full season: 2010, Pennington
  • Human Nature Farms, Brian Hulme and John Applegate
    • First season: 2008, Rutgers Eco Complex,
  • Jahs Creation Organic Farm, Matthew Bruckler III
    • First season (full time): 2009, Egg Harbor Township
  • Piping Goat Creamery, Natalie Hamill
    • First season: 2009 (first cheese in 2011), Lawrenceville
  • Z Food Farm, David Zaback
    • First season: 2010, Lawrenceville

Our intention in this presentation is to focus attention on New Agricultural Ventures – partly to honor them, in particular for their investment and commitment to agriculture in NJ, and partly to be sure their voices are part of the discussion about what does agriculture need to get reinvigorated and thrive in NJ.?

The panelists were asked to respond to the following questions –

You can hear their responses by clicking on the Audio Sections below:       

Audio section 1: 14:44 minutes

A brief description of their operations.

Brief descriptions of the practical elements of their operations – main crops, scale of operation, and market outlets.

Before preparing the ground, planting area and livestock management areas for production, the panelists describe their vision – how did they picture their operation, or themselves engaged with their venture – what was the original vision?

Audio section 2: 57:06 minutes

The panelists were asked to share a story or their thoughts about challenges they have faced so far.

Additionally, what resources did they identify that have helped, or could help.

Audio section 3: 23:08 minutes

Panelists were asked;

What advice would they offer to someone who might follow in their footsteps,

If their vision had changed, what was the new vision, and

What thoughts about their experience would they share with their community, so the community might seek to invest in and support their efforts, and the new operations to follow?

Audio section 4: 5:01 minutes

Panel discussion beginning introductions, including the audience, and end of the panel announcements – including NOFA-NJ will sponsor any new farmers (ten years or less) who will attend the upcoming NOFA-NJ Winter Conference!!

Mike Rassweiler, of North Slope Farm, facilitated the discussion and shares his perspective below:

My thanks to the many folks who made the evening possible; from the crew at NorthSlope who prepared a unique and pleasing environment in our greenhouse, Steve Tomlinson who provided our audio recording, NOFA-NJ for another season of informative Twilight Meetings, our audience and our panelists for taking the time and risk of speaking publicly about their ventures!!

The time went by quickly, without the opportunity to ask for more detail from the panelists, which is why we will use this post to provide an index for the discussion; names and links for mentors the panelists mentioned, definition for terms and any other details that might help.

As New Jersey remembers how to grow its own food and necessities right here in the Garden State, we will need to pay attention to the words of our farmers – new and old.  We need to support farmers by buying their products, supporting their efforts and asking for their perspectives!!

Please share what you learn in the Audio Recording above and email us if you have questions – we will update the index in an effort to illuminate!

(Draft) INDEX, Glossary and Links

Farmer Mentors and Farms mentioned:

  • Pam Flory, when at Spring Hill Farm in Hopewell.
  • Matthew Conver, Cherry Grove Organic Farm, Lawrenceville.
  • Kelly Harding, Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville.
  • Herdsman at Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville.
  • Jim Kinsel, Honeybrook Organic Farm, Pennington.
  • Rutgers Eco-Complex, Business Incubator.

Glossary of Terms:

  • CSA – community supported agriculture.  A term to describe the sale of shares of an operations anticipated yield.


New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey

October 26th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Events and Workshops - (Comments Off on New Agricultural Ventures in New Jersey)

NOFA Twilight Meeting October 26, 2010

New Agricultural Ventures – Investing in New Jersey Agriculture !

 NOFA Twilight Meeting at North Slope Farm – Tuesday 5 pm to 7 pm,

followed by Potluck dinner!!


Four New Ventures speak out for New Jersey Agriculture!


Human Nature Farms
Brian Hulme and partner John Applegate
908-601-2512 or

We are in our third year of operation.  My business partner John Applegate and I are research assistants at the Rutgers Cooperative Extension on Monmouth County where we learned about Organic/Sustainable Agriculture.  When greenhouse space became available at the Rutgers EcoComplex we decided to start a business.  We received our Org Cert and began growing herbs and leafy greens and began selling to local grocery stores such as Wholefoods and other small misc grocery stores as well as distributors.  We are currently in the process of moving into the produce distributing/brokering/packing side of things and would like to expand into other non-produce items as well. 

In other words, our business is at a crossroads and are open to many various endeavors.  This makes even more excited to meet and talk with other like-minded growers/entrepreneurs.  You can feel free to call/email for any other questions or to discuss the specifics of the program in more detail at any time.



Matthew Bruckler III or telephone 609 272-9538 

2009 was my first year farming full time. We sold 64 Summer CSA shares and 34 Winter CSA shares. This was done on 3 acres of ground and the greenhouses.

This year (2010) our CSA grew to 113 Summer CSA members and 60 Winter CSA members. This is being done on 3.5 acres of ground and the greenhouses. We are currently in the process of adding another 2 to 3 acres to our certification for next year and look to break the 200 CSA member mark.

Through the past 3 summers we also did some farmers markets, restaurant sales and a little wholesale as well. We are growing rather fast, but I am keeping everything well under control. We have grown transplants for another farm for the past 2 seasons and blended soil for another farm. We also sold our fertilizer (which we developed) to a landscape company for the past 2 years.

The land that we farm is split in 2 locations right now. We will be adding another location for next year. We own no land, but rent it all. We travel 20 miles between farms right now. Some days I have been between the two location up to 3 times.

The goal of our operation is to make a good living from the land. By that, I mean to say that I wish to live a financially comfortable life and be free to travel from time to time. I am very happy to be away from the stress of the construction business. Farming has its own stress, but I am more than prepared for it! Currently, besides myself, I have a part time driver, one full time employee and then 2 others who help out part time.

In 2011 I expect to have about 6 to 7 acres in very intense production. I anticipate that it will take myself, 3 full timers, and another 1 or 2 part timers to do the work for the season. I look to gross over $200,000.00 in 2011 by growing our CSA to over 200 members. We will also do restaurant sales, wholesales and a farmers market or two. We are currently installing low tunnels to extend our seasons and will also be adding high tunnels for next year, if finances allow us to.

I am confident that we will grow this farm into something really big within the next 3 years, but I will have to spend a fortune to prime the pump! I expect that we will be one of the most well respected Certified Organic Farms in the state of New Jersey well before the year 2015. I will have to think about how far I want to go after that. I just might settle down and enjoy the comforts of farming, or maybe I will go all the way and make an empire out of this thing!

 Run for cover!     Run for cover!     Rasta Taking Over! 


Chickadee Creek Farm

Jess Niederer

First production season began with spring harvests – March 2010.

Chickadee Creek Farm currently is producing produce and flowers on two acres.

Market outlets include two Farmers Markets, a ‘market share’ allowing customers to utilize prepaid credit to stock up at markets, including a sliding scale discount… And Restaurant Specialty Sales to The Brothers Moon, in Hopewell and Busters Café, in NYC.

 Goals for Chickadee Creek operator are best heard in person!  Not least of which are making great food accessible to all and real farm income to support the reality of owning land in NJ.


Z Food Farm

David Zaback

 First production season began with spring harvests – 2010.

Renting land in Lawrenceville, Z Food Farm is a “diverse vegetable farm” with market outlets including Farmers Markets, a roadside stand and Specialty Restaurant Sales.

 Another reason to listen to the driving force behind New Agricultural Ventures, a “simple” goal for Z Food Farm is to provide great food and great food variety to its surrounding community.


Piping Goat Creamery

Natalie Hamill

First production is expected in June of 2011, but to achieve that, breeding goats were purchased and have been managed since 2009.

Establishing herself on family land in Lawrenceville, the Piping Goat Creamery is intended to augment existing farmstand sales and wholesale accounts.

Poultry – Introduction

October 14th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Poultry - (Comments Off on Poultry – Introduction)

Poultry – Field Birds


October 14, 2010

 Intent: To establish the viability and management practices of “small flocks” of laying chickens (layers), on seasonal pasture, free roaming except at night.


  • Capital Investment; North Slope Farm.
  • Daily Management; North Slope Farm.
  • Site Details; infrastructure and fields managed by North Slope Farm.
  • Enterprise; 3 total flocks of 50 birds each, annually.  Each year 50 new chicks will be started and at the end of the season the oldest flock will be retired.  Each flock will yield 2 seasons of production, over a managed lifespan of 3 seasons.
  • Flocks will be managed according to Generally Accepted Organic Practices, with a focus on access to outdoors, and Organic Feed.  Ideally investment dollars will be directed to local businesses, ie; feed from Rosedale Mills in nearby Pennington, NJ.  Chicks currently purchased from Moyers Chicks, in Quackertown, PA, due to past business and good reputation. 
  • Regular records will be kept of costs and production.  North Slope Farm will be responsible for costs and income of the operation.
  • Information about the project, including annual summaries, will be shared on our website under Special Projects; Poultry.

 Data Points:

  • Baseline value of a dozen eggs wholesale: $4.50
  • Retail value: $7

Summary as of October 2010:

Farm manager and trainees currently manage two flocks of layers.  The ‘08’s have been retired from production, so the ‘09’s are the “old girls” now.  The 210’s (chicks started in 2010) are out of their baby pen, into the big girl housing but not yet on pasture.  Their coop is built into a fenced yard for the winter, so they will not be on pasture until Spring 2011.  They are first in line for special treatment though – vegetable waste from market garden as well as hay and sprouted grains for scratch.

2010 was hard on the field girls with serious losses to foxes.  We anticipate increased pressure as cold weather sets in.  To avoid loses over the winter we need to enclose the girls, ideally into a large greenhouse, but at least a fenced yard.  The winter setting for the 2010’s is established but where we’ll park the 09’s is still up for debate.  Getting them into a situation where we can build extra protection from the winter extremes is the priority.  Also critical is to have them near to our winter water source.

The costs of the enterprise are primarily in Feed.  Labor is the other major item.  The labor required at minimum is Morning and Night.  The opening of their coop in the morning, freshening bedding, filling feed and fresh water.  Evening chores include closing coop, securing feed and collecting eggs.  We typically visit the coops up to three times a day, collecting eggs and checking feed and water in the afternoon.  Each week the field coops are moved to a new section of pasture.  The section of pasture has a perimeter of 330’ as defined by two 165’ lengths of “Poultry Net” (from – Cost at purchase $170 each.  We sort the eggs into Market (clean from coop) and Farmer (needs cleaning).  The farmer eggs are available to our trainees (and community investors) at reduced cost.  The Market eggs are rinsed prior to packing and selling each week.  Current average yield for thiry layers is 13 market dozen per week, at $4.50 – about $60 for a weeks worth of tending (not enough even to support a workers responsibilities at $10/hr).  The goal will be two flocks of 50 each, yielding 43 doz, or $190 for a weeks worth of tending.  The working assumption is that more birds than that would exceed our ability to manage optimally.

Future discussion:  Establish a viable wholesale cost.  Assess production management; strengths and weakness.  Assess production potential and identify limitations to operation.  Identify values and costs of enterprise not reflected in hard data collected.

Click on picture below to visit our Photo Sets at
Moveable Coop and fence

Invest in Agricultural Enterprise

October 14th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Community Affairs - (Comments Off on Invest in Agricultural Enterprise)

Agricultural Enterprise Opportunities

NorthSlopeFarm, West Amwell NJ, USA

October 14, 2010

A challenge for agricultural enterprise is capitalization.

 To provide an incentive for Farmers to invest themselves in regenerative, environmentally sensitive, quality production of locally valuable products and services,

Those with access to “underutilized” capital can invest it,

In Agricultural Enterprise !!

North Slope Farm is developing a public format to track the evolution of “small scale agricultural enterprise”.  The base data being the information shared on this web site and through our Training Program about the basic operation of North Slope Farm.

 We will track our new enterprises under the Category – Special Projects – Poultry.

 Agricultural Enterprises currently listed:

  • Poultry – Field Birds

 How North Slope Farm can help you invest in Agricultural Enterprise:

  • Shop from Local Farmers!!  Join us at Farmers Markets!!
  • Ideally North Slope Farm hopes to establish its Trainees in positions of responsibility, managing valuable resources to regeneratively produce products and services for local communities.  Each Trainee has their own hopes and desires but most will be challenged by available capital to invest in long term plans and effort.  To encourage investment by outside parties – sympathetic to the real challenges of doing good – North Slope Farm can serve to partner with Trainees, active and graduated, and individuals or groups from the community who would like to actively invest in Agricultural Enterprise.
  • To discuss agricultural investment opportunities email – ; subject Agricultural Enterprise

Crops Available October 2011

October 7th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Crops Available Now - (Comments Off on Crops Available October 2011)

Crops Available Now from North Slope Farm

Updated October 19, 2011

 Markets – 

North Slope Farms own;

Eggs – free range, organic feed, full outdoor access

Salad Mix


Tat soi





Limited quantities of:


Swiss Chard





Speciality Herbs 


Fruit Products from Solebury Orchards, PA (not organic)

Honey Crisp Apples

Apple Cider

Apple Juice


Apple Butter

Peach Butter


Products from Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms






Special Projects

September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Special Projects - (Comments Off on Special Projects)

2010 064

Special Projects are how we allow for interests and opportunities that fall outside our set practices.  Individual trainees can design their own special projects or like with our Poultry Project, the farm manager might define a production effort as a special project until it proves itself over time.  Winter Production and ‘TableTop Greens’ are other examples of this.


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Planting - (Comments Off on Planting)


Planting is one of the most rewarding tasks at North Slope Farm.  It is a major step that takes the seedling from the Greenhouse element to the Crop Care element.  Many steps lead up to a successful planting, and then the job has just begun.  Cover those soil blocks you planters!!!


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Infrastructure - (Comments Off on Infrastructure)


Infrastructure is another element that is tied into all the others.  Nothing would happen without the infrastructure the 1. ties us all together and 2. allows us the energy and resources to feed production systems.  The time we all spend talking about how investments in Infrastructure can be designed to feed agricultural systems is what will lead to sustainable societies.


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Handling - (Comments Off on Handling)

Washing Intro

The difference between a fresh product and an excellent fresh product is Handling.  The niche that local agriculture can fill is to produce quality products close to the market, THEN handle them professionally and their customers will be back each week!  Here in lies the greatest challenge for small scale operations – washing, cooling, packaging and distribution.  To handle these issues professionally takes investment in infrastructure, expense that only pays off with large scale production.


September 28th, 2010 | Posted by miker in Greenhouse - (Comments Off on Greenhouse)

seedling greenhouse 4.2009

Greenhouses are here to stay, and in our urban state, it seems likely that the future will include a greater and greater percentage of production in controlled climates.  Detail oriented managers will find great success in the greenhouse.  It is definately less forgiving than the outside environment.  Our greenhouses provide us with the opportunity to produce our seedlings, provide winter shelter for livestock, increasingly we are looking to increase winter production and generally a nice place to be on a sunny December day!