The Montclair Historical Society is bridging local history and today's trend for sustainable, local, affordable food as the Israel Crane House grounds become the second location for Montclair Community Farms. Starting in September, the land will be cleared and prepared for fall and spring plantings, with the first harvest season slated for 2013.
The Montclair Community Farms Project is a youth farming program that teaches local teens how to grow and sell vegetables. It also makes fresh produce available at affordable prices for those in the community on limited budgets.
The nearly 6,000 square foot plot is located behind the Montclair Historical Society's Clark House on Orange Road. The addition of this site to Montclair Community Farms quadruples the space available for planting, supplementing the original site on Miller Street in Montclair. The new farm at the Clark house will also be home to a dozen chickens whose eggs will be sold to local residents or donated to local group residences and soup kitchens.
“The Orange Road site, home to three historic buildings, a former farm and the current drop-off location of the Montclair Food Co-op CSA, was a natural spot for the expansion of this program because it helps to reconnect with the community's agricultural past," said Montclair Historical Society Executive Director Jane Eliasof. “This project allows us to interpret our agricultural past within today's demands for sustainable, local and organic produce. We are thrilled to be part of this project that both connects the community with its agricultural roots and encourages a healthier lifestyle."
A launch celebration of the new farm will be held Saturday, October 27 as part of Food Day – a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthful, affordable, and sustainable food. Local restaurants have been invited to participate a “spoon-a-thon” with their own soups made from local, sustainable ingredients. Visiotrs will partake in soup tasting and judging, tours of the Israel Crane and Nathaniel Crane houses, tours of the new farm and chicken area, story reading, live music, and more.
The Montclair Community Farm project is a collaboration of Essex County 4-H (Rutgers Cooperative Extension), HOMECorp, Montclair Health Department, Montclair State University, TerraNoble Design and United Way of Northern New Jersey. Since its inception, the project has been funded by Partners For Health Foundation, and this year the project is also receiving funds from Capital One. In its inaugural year, six students grew almost 300 pounds of vegetables during a short season on 1,000 square feet of land on Miller Street owned by HOMECorp. Beginning this year the plot expanded to twice the size, to nearly 2,000-square-feet, and another six area teenagers are growing vegetables on the Miller Street property. The vegetables grown are sold at a farm stand just a block away at the Montclair Child Development Center on Fulton Street.
The collaboration with the Montclair Community Garden will enable the Montclair Historical Society to host workshops from the Coalition, as well as offer workshops with a historical perspective, and welcome field trips for schools and groups.