New Jersey has a long agricultural history dating back to pre-colonial times, which is how it acquired its name as the “Garden State.” Traditional cultivation methods of NJ’s fertile land have earned New Jersey its spot as a top producer of several horticultural crops. New Jersey‘s cultivation of over 720,000 acres is thus seen as vital part of a multi-billion-dollar industry totaling over $115 billion (2019). However, in recent years, the high cost of land and urban encroachment of farmlands has become a serious concern for the state. New Jersey has experienced the highest decline of farmland and rural open land in the United States.
Limited available farmland has pushed some producers into urban and peri-urban areas. Others have been enticed with investments and tax incentives to move operations to urban areas across the Garden State. Companies like AeroFarms, Bowery and others have established themselves in New Jersey’s cities and are benefitting consumers with local fresh foods, offering employment opportunities, and championing urban development initiatives and partnerships.
In New Jersey, not only are we seeing an interesting mix of businesses large and small as part of a growing industry but also non-profits benefitting the populations they serve. Vertical and indoor farming ventures are versatile in the ways they can operate in the community by bringing fresh healthy foods, sustainable practices, and new opportunities for education and employment. We look forward to seeing how indoor farming continues to add to the rich history of agriculture in the state of New Jersey.