During the 2013 Fall Semester, a talented group of five (4 undergraduate) Ralph W. Voorhees Public Service Fellows will work with Elijah’s Promise and the New Brunswick Community Food Alliance to support their efforts to increase community food security in New Brunswick. Elijah’s Promise is a community based organization in New Brunswick that seeks to alleviate poverty and hunger by providing job training, small business development, education, jobs, and services. The New Brunswick Community Food Alliance http://www.nbfood.org is a community collaboration that seeks to improve community food security.
This coming Fall, students will work on three projects:
- Conduct a garden assessment to better understand what community gardeners are growing, how they use their produce, and how much they grow. Students will research how gardeners in New York City and Philadelphia weigh and track produce and, in partnership with New Brunswick community gardeners, will create a system to do the same.
- Develop a farm-to-freezer guide for individuals and community institutions.
- Research and produce a short report and fact sheet that explores how CSAs, farm markets and other community food efforts can use SNAP benefits and other food programs to increase access to local produce for people in communities that lack it.
The Fall 2012 Community Development Studio worked with Elijah’s Promise, New Brunswick Food Alliance, New Jersey Farm to School, Ag in the City, NOFA-NJ, and New Jersey Community Capital to better understand farming in Central New Jersey and aggregation and distribution processes. The objective is to increase food-related community development, improve food security in New Brunswick and in New Jersey, and to better understand the challenges farmers face in general and in reaching urban populations. The Studio team built on the work of the Fall 2011 CD studio that explored where food can be grown in New Brunswick and the Spring 2012 CD studio that examined the potential to create a community food hub in New Jersey. Elijah’s Promise asked us to 1) better understand and map the farming landscape in New Jersey, especially in Central New Jersey, 2) describe what and where they grow and how farmers get their food to market and what challenges they face in doing so in ways that ensure that they continue to farm, and to 3) think about whether a food hub could improve conditions for farmers and consumers.The studio team explored where and what produce is grown in NJ and how that produce reaches NJ consumers. We sought to learn about the barriers farmers face in reaching NJ consumers.
The Spring studio team worked with Elijah’s Promise to implement elements of the Fall Urban Ag in NB Studio’s Urban Agriculture Plan. This included developing a high tunnel production system and laying the ground work for a food processing system. To further develop these ideas, we partnered with New Jersey Community Capital and the Rutgers Food Innovation Center. NJCC is a community economic development financial intermediary that helps community organizations access capital to revive neighborhoods. The RU Food Innovation Center is an award winning food-related business incubator. The Studio team conducted a community economic development impact study of the Food Innovation Center and produced a report for them. The team also drew on the Fall report and partnerships into efforts to further develop NB’s food hub and to enhance food-related community economic development in NJ.
During the 2011 Fall Semester, a talented group of six (4 undergraduate and 2 graduate) Ralph W. Voorhees Public Service Fellows worked with Elijah's Promise to research the potential for developing urban agriculture in New Brunswick. Elijah's Promise is a community based organization in New Brunswick that seeks to alleviate poverty and hunger by providing job training, small business development, education, jobs, and services. Elijah's Promise asked students to develop an urban agriculture plan for the city of New Brunswick. Students exploried the potential to grow and process food in the city, assess the local market to purchase locally grown food, and consider how urban agriculture can enhance economic development opportunities by identifying models for growing and processing food that are linked to job training, education, and entrepreneurial business development. Students produced a report and implementation plan that includes examples from other cities.