Everyone knows that New Jersey is nicknamed the “Backyard State.” When that phrase involves thoughts, most individuals in all probability consider produce. At present, there are about 9,900 farms working in New Jersey, with a mean farm measurement of about 76 acres. There are about 6,400 flower growers in your entire United States. The US imports about 81% of the fresh-cut flowers originating primarily from Columbia and Ecuador. The flower trade is a few $57 billion market. There may be alternative hidden inside these figures – for these with a imaginative and prescient and a dream.
It All Started in Brooklyn
Moonshot Farm, positioned in East Windsor, New Jersey, is a small family-owned farm that’s uniquely positioning itself to be a pacesetter within the sustainable specialty reduce flower market. Opened in 2019, this working farm owned by Rebecca Kutzer-Rice and Mark Ginsberg has an attention-grabbing origin story and robust guiding enterprise rules.
Six years in the past, Rebecca was dwelling in Brooklyn and dealing in know-how when she met Mark, employed as a carpenter. They fell in love and had a bit of residence in Brooklyn they known as “The Farm,” the place they stored bees and chickens, and tended to a small backyard.
Over to the Jersey Aspect
Within the fall of 2018, their first daughter, Rose, was born. They each agreed having land and open areas had been one thing they wished for his or her kids, so in Jan. of 2019, they started wanting towards New Jersey for farmland.
East Windsor, NJ, is a suburban neighborhood about an hour’s prepare experience from New York Metropolis. It’s populated largely by housing subdivisions, however the outer edges of this city of about 27,000 nonetheless comprise many working farms. Lee Turkey Farm has been in enterprise within the township for seven generations, offering contemporary produce and Thanksgiving turkeys to the neighborhood for many years. When Rebecca and Mark discovered an outdated Christmas tree farm with a home, a fantastic outdated purple barn and 9 and a half acres of land in April of 2019, they deemed it the proper spot to “shoot for the moon” and launch Moonshot Farm.
Studying to Develop
They started as a small homestead. Rebecca and Mark weren’t born farmers – they needed to be taught. They started promoting eggs off their entrance porch, and experimenting with crops like flowers, garlic and blueberries. The flowers took off and so they began studying about rising responsibly and sustainably. Each Mark and Rebecca have discovered and leveraged each obtainable useful resource on the market to maximise the success of their farm. They labored intently with the Rutgers Extension Company to get assist with crop rotation planning. The Affiliation of Specialty Lower Flower Growers (ASCFG) granted them a mentorship. Rebecca is now additionally properly on her approach to turning into a Grasp Beekeeper.
All this collaboration, mentoring and self-teaching enabled this younger start-up farm to develop from its small porch gross sales stand to turning into a industrial scale specialty flower farm in 2021 with an acre devoted to the flowers. The flowers are pesticide and poisonous chemical free. They use useful insect releases to manage undesirable bugs. They consciously incorporate “good” vegetation to draw the pollinators and different bugs desired to organically management injury to flowers. Pure packaging is used for all of the bouquets and all the pieces leaving the farm is compostable. It ought to be famous that in March of 2022 they welcomed their second daughter, Violet to the farm. Because the household expands, so do the number of flowers.
Their present enterprise mannequin is direct to shopper and retail. Moonshot Farm is an lively participant on the extremely profitable West Windsor Farmers Market, open Saturdays year-round. In addition they have particular occasions now and again on the farm; there’s a U-pick, flower arranging lessons at all times promote out, farm excursions had been provided for CSA members this yr and there’s vacation wreath making.
Leveraging the Neighborhood Supported Agriculture (CSA) mannequin, they started to supply a bouquet-of-the-month subscription in 2021. Each month for six months from April by means of September a beautiful seasonal bouquet is ready. The primary yr twenty-five folks signed on. This yr the 100 and twenty spots offered out and there’s a ready listing. In 2023, the couple plans to supply the subscription year-round. The farm presently has three workers to help with harvesting and preparation of those in style bouquets. The Farm Stand out entrance is open each Sunday and nearly at all times sells out.
It seems like these two children from Brooklyn are on to one thing, proper? Recall for a second the timing of once they began this enterprise, simply earlier than Covid shut all the pieces down. Utilizing her advertising chops, Rebecca efficiently leveraged social media through Fb and Instagram to let the encompassing neighborhood know they had been right here and open for enterprise. By upping their recreation each in buying the mandatory farming expertise, collaborating with native assets and specializing in high-quality, specialty blooms – Moonshot Farm has been capable of set up a reputation and a presence within the native enterprise neighborhood and acquire shopper loyalty in a short time.
Having Needs Granted
The most important collaboration, nonetheless, is nearly to start for Moonshot Farm. The USDA has awarded them a grant by means of the Rural Vitality for America Program (REAP) to transform their main greenhouse to geothermal heating.Consistent with their imaginative and prescient of a sustainable farm with a low carbon footprint, the geothermal different is ingenious. Development is slated to begin this Fall and they’re going to turn into one of many first industrial geothermal greenhouses for reduce flowers within the nation. Think about contemporary reduce native flowers on the desk at Christmas, or as an alternative of purple roses flown from different climates – how a few gorgeous Valentine’s Day bouquet of native flowers grown with minimal environmental affect? I’m already attempting to think about what the primary winter CSA may appear to be within the dreary days of late Jan.
Moonshot Farm is now labeled as Preserved Farmland. These lands have sure guidelines and laws that should be adopted. It’s presently the smallest Preserved Farm in Mercer County. However the measurement shouldn’t idiot you. This farm is a powerhouse poised to increase, develop and flourish.. They’ve been actively partnering with different native companies to enhance synergies. Previous Hights Brewery has hosted particular markets for native distributors, together with Moonshot Farm, whose honey and spruce suggestions have additionally been used within the brewery’s beer. The Arts Council of Princeton made the vases for the farm’s CSA, and Moonshot Farm is internet hosting a wreath workshop on the Arts Council this winter. Jammin’ Crepes of Princeton is a pick-up location for the CSA.
In addition to a dedication to responsibly rising specialty flowers, Rebecca and Mark additionally share a dedication to having their enterprise replicate their values. They really feel they’ve an moral accountability. They just lately created their very own Jars for Pleasure Program. They’ve donated bouquets to Ukrainian neighborhood facilities, meals pantries, gun security teams and Deliberate Parenthood places of work. They’ve hosted sundown yoga on the farm to assist the Nationwide Black Farmers Affiliation. They’ve the braveness of their convictions and they don’t seem to be afraid to face any backlash for believing in causes expensive to their hearts.
Flowers in December
Summer time is flying by shortly now. Some small farms are enthusiastic about the autumn crops and the winter break little doubt. However not at Moonshot Farm. They’ve tens of 1000’s of tulips, freesia, ranunculus, and anemones deliberate and visions of seeing flowers in Winter we have now by no means been capable of see earlier than – the primary year-round Flower CSA within the state!
I really like dwelling within the Backyard State. Our tomatoes are second to none. A few of the most scrumptious and most lovely issues are grown right here in our Jersey soil. In addition to serving as a supply for pollinators, flowers add a lot to our lives. The wonder, the aroma, the easy present between associates – flowers are particular and add a lot to our pure and sensory setting. This new breed of moral farming is a welcome pattern right here. I hope extra younger farmers take up the decision and we transfer the needle away from the agri-business machine. My associates at Moonshot Farm ask us a easy favor, take into consideration the affect of our purchasing habits; human, environmental and moral. Do we have to get only a few styles of flowers that transport properly grown and flown a continent away? The concept of procuring native has by no means made extra sense; and by no means been extra lovely.