Montclair Community Farms Coalition: growing strong.
Montclair is a town known for its environmental practices and community engagement. With various parks dispersed throughout the town, like Edgemont Memorial Park and Eagle Rock Reservation, electric charging stations in commercial parking lots and organizations promoting environmental action and awareness, there is plenty for residents and visitors alike to do that can help out the environment.
One such non-profit organization involved in integrating community outreach with environmental management is the Montclair Community Farms Coalition. This grassroots alliance of other groups including the Montclair Historical Society, HOMECorp, Montclair State University and Essex 4-H works together “to provide local farm sites to engage the community in organic farming, food, agricultural and nutrition education.” Montclair Community Farms practices sustainable agriculture, with a focus on growing organic food and selling the produce and eggs at affordable prices. Food that is not sold is donated to local organizations. Volunteers work at two locations, one at the Montclair Historical Society, the Clark House at 108 Orange Road, and the other at 16 Miller Street. These micro-farms, complete with a chicken coop, are tended to year-round.
Since its inception in 2011, the coalition has worked to expand its efforts. In 2014, MCFC’s goal was to increase participation in its local youth farming program. This year the coalition is participating in ShapingNJ 2015, with an objective to make food more accessible to senior citizens. Food grown at the farms will be made available via a mobile farm stand, which will be hitched up to a pick-up truck. Driving the food to senior citizens’ residences makes it easier for those who do not qualify for assistance. Having new goals like this allows for the organization to keep improving and broadening its reach.
There are many opportunities to get involved, and all ages are welcome to participate. The group posted an announcement of dates when volunteers can stop by either location to help prepare for the upcoming growing season. The next volunteer opportunity is this Saturday, April 18, at the Montclair Historical Society. Volunteers should come prepared to work outside and get dirty, as they will be filling beds, planting seeds and spreading mulch around. Other dates include April 24, May 2 and May 16. More information can be found on the MCFC Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MontclairCommunityFarms. There is also a blog with more detailed accounts of developments and projects, https://shapingnj.wordpress.com/category/montclair/. The Farm Coordinator, Karen Lee, can be contacted for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 973-744-1796.