Jess Niederer named 2016 National Outstanding Young Farmer

It was with a great sense of honor that Jess accepted the award from the Outstanding Farmers of America. Candidates are nominated from all across the country, and a panel of judges selects winners based on progress in their agricultural career, soil and water conservation, and service to their community, state, and nation.

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Press coverage of the award:

Hopewell Valley News: Jersey girl continues to blossom, wins national award

USA Today: A bright future for NJ Agriculture

Outstanding Farmers of America website

The Hunterdon County News: New Jersey Farmer Named National Outstanding Young Farmer

 

Farmer Jess recognized as NJ Outstanding Young Farmer!

Farmer Jess was recently named NJ’s Outstanding Young Farmer of the year.  Read more about it here.

HOPEWELL TWP.: Dignitaries with farmer Jess Niederer

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP — She grows 40 different kinds of organic vegetables and fruits on 17 acres in town. She can fix a tractor. She has a trusty dog named Tilly, and now Jessica Niederer has been chosen as New Jersey’s Outstanding Young Farmer.

State Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher was at Ms. Niederer’s Chickadee Creek Farm on Titus Mill Road on the morning of Oct. 22 to formally recognize the 31-year-old agriculturist for earning the award.

“To be able to be an organic farmer and be successful is a tribute to you and a tribute to the people who work with you, and to your leadership. You are one of the hardest-working farmers I’ve ever met,” Mr. Fisher said, standing next to Ms. Niederer in a field for a photo opportunity with several other dignitaries.

The rest of the article by Frank Mustac can be found here.

Secretary of Agriculture Visit in the News

New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture paid a visit to the farm recently!  Read about it in the Trenton Times, here.

farm, organic, new jersey, secretary of agriculture, doug fisher, vegetable
photo by Martin Griff

Organic Hopewell farm impresses state Secretary of Agriculture

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP — Jessica Niederer, who attended Cornell University, didn’t always intend to carry on the family farming business — she wanted to be a scientist.

At some point on the way to her degree in ecology and environmental biology, however, she realized that she wanted to work outside and decided to give up the laboratory to become a 13th-generation farmer.

Now, five years into operating her own organic farm, Chickadee Creek Farm, on 17 acres she is renting from her father in Hopewell, Niederer is starting to gain recognition for her accomplishments.

Read the full article by Brendan McGrath here.

Organic Farming Editorial

A follow up editorial to the Secretary of Agriculture’s visit.  The full text can be found through this link.

Editorial: N.J. organic farming is showing encouraging signs of growth

As New Jersey strawberries, arugula and summer squash come into season, we’re reminded once again of the good fortune of living in a state where produce picked in the morning can be on the dinner table in the evening.

One young farmer who helps make that possible is Jessica Niederer who for five years has worked Chickadee Creek Farm, an organic operation in Hopewell Township.

Last week, state Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher visited Chickadee Creek to get a first-hand look at what Niederer has accomplished on the land that’s been in her family for generations. It was part of an effort to highlight New Jersey’s organic farming industry, The Times’ Brendan McGrath reported, as well as the state’s Community Supported Agriculture program.

Continue reading here.

Local Hero Award

Big News! We were voted the “Local Hero” award in the Farm/Farmer category by Edible Jersey readers! Check out the article below and read about other local heroes here.

Photo by Joanna Tully

Jess Niederer once described a chickadee as fierce, persistent, social-minded and cheerful. To me, that sounds just like her. When asked how it feels to be entering her fifth year running Chickadee Creek Farm, Niederer recalls her beginnings. “It wasn’t a sure thing that starting up a vegetable farm with a super-meager budget and minimal experience was going to pan out,” she says. In 2010, Niederer leased five acres of her family farm in Pennington and started growing vegetables on two of them. That first year, she sold produce at two farmers’ markets and had a small number of CSA members. With each year that flew by, the farm grew. Now Chickadee Creek sells its certified- and transitional-organic produce at five farmers’ markets and the CSA counts 130 members.

This growth is no coincidence. Niederer works like a wild woman, driven by fervent dedication to her farm, her community, local ecology and environment, and the people that work with her. She is tenacious, taking meticulous notes on her successes and failures and then, just as the pace of the season slows in the fall, incorporating her new knowledge into the next year’s plan. This is one of the great rewards Niederer finds in running a farm business: the chance to grow upon everything she has learned.

And somehow, she finds time to give to her community through off-farm activities as well. Every Thursday during the slower months, Niederer volunteers as an EMT for the Pennington First Aid Squad, and she attends monthly Mercer County Board of Agriculture meetings. She teaches a class through the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey that helps beginning and aspiring farmers decide if it is the right career for them. And for all her apprentices, her door remains open after they move on from her farm. I know from personal experience, as I was a Chickadee Creek Farm apprentice in 2012.

When Niederer started out, she says, she was working toward financial stability, improved local ecology and human health, and the creation of a business that she could be proud of. Now, as some of these goals are beginning to be realized, she is adding a fourth goal: to get, as she says, “food to people who cannot afford it or access it but would reap great health benefits from fresh produce.”

Even with her success, she doesn’t forget her risky beginnings, saying, “I feel so lucky to have acquired what seems to be the most awesome group of farm members ever. I feel relieved that all this even worked.” —Helen Chandler

Helen Chandler, in her second year of farming at Whistling Wolf Farm, is a regular contributor to EJ.

The Winter Harvest

Read about Farmer Jess on a true winter harvest day, in this Star Ledger article.

organic pennington farm in the snow, princeton, flemington marketIn Season: Taking on turnips

By Rachel Weston
Let’s face it, turnips get short shrift compared to some of the other root vegetables. Leggy carrots and bossy beets jostle for a place in the sunlight. My mother always insisted on mashed turnips at our Christmas dinners. I would wrinkle my nose and take the obligatory bite. When I found myself traveling through Scotland last year, I began to appreciate the side of neeps and tatties (mashed turnips and potatoes) that came along with the haggis that I ate at every opportunity I could. Making the mash is a breeze and completely comforting to eat on a snowy evening. Substitute a few nice sizzling sausages which are easier to obtain than haggis.

When it snowed earlier this week, while we were sipping cocoa inside, Jess Niederer, a thirteenth generation farmer was out in the snow feverishly harvesting turnips at Chickadee Creek Farm in Pennington. As she pushed the row covers back, the verdant turnip greens popped out into the white landscape.
Continue to the full article, here.

Farmer Jess Weighs in on Blight

Chickadee Creek’s Farmer Jess is quoted in a recent Trenton Times article about the emergence of late blight on tomato crops in NJ!

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Jersey tomato, potato crops threatened by ‘blight’ disease found at five NJ farms

By Kelly Johnson and Nicole Mulvaney

Hopewell Township–Organic farmer Jess Niederer is terrified of late blight, a destructive disease specific to tomatoes and potatoes that was recently discovered on five farms in the state. She knows the fast-spreading disease has the potential to wipe out her crop of tomatoes at Chickadee Creek Farms, and she also knows the first case of blight in New Jersey this year was discovered in Mercer County.

“Cherry tomatoes were my No. 2 seller last year,” Niederer said. Her crops were struck with the disease last year, but it was late enough in the season to spare her from losing a significant amount of money.

This season, the first case of late blight in the state was confirmed in Mercer on an organic farm in late June, said Meredith Melendez, agriculture coordinator for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Mercer County. Four other cases were confirmed on farms in Salem County this week, said Andy Wyenandt, a vegetable pathology specialist for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

Read more, here.