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 of Chickadee Creek farm, growing organic vegetables for sale in Pennington, Princeton, New Brunswick, Metuchen, Westfield, Denville and Summit, NJ

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.

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.

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.

Featured in the Princeton Eats blog

Winter Flavors Of Food

By Kim Palumbo
Central New Jersey is home to numerous grocery stores: large chain or local mom and pop, certified organic or not-so-much, we’ve got you covered.  With so many alternatives to choose from, health-conscious, budget-minded consumers may find it all a bit overwhelming.

Jess Niederer – Chickadee Creek Farm

A recent visit with Jess Niederer of Chickadee Creek Farm in Pennington made options a little less daunting, and a lot more attractive. We met with Jess to discuss her Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA, for short….click here to read more and to watch the short video.

Hot off the press:

Farm Living Is The Life: Jess Niederer
by Michele Alperin

Throughout the United States, about 30 percent of farmers were women in 2007, a 19 percent increase in just five years. They make much less than their male counterparts — $36,000 a year versus $150,671, and farm less than half the acreage per capita, yet the women are more likely to own their own land, according to Jenny Carleo of Rutgers Cooperative Extension

In New Jersey there are about 2,261 women-operated farms, about one-fifth of the total number of farms in the state. Their farms average 29 acres in size and produce, on average, $22,170 a year in products, way below the state average of $95,584.

Carleo says that a growing number of women are eager to start on the journey.“A lot of new farmers are women,” she finds.

Two local woman farmers — both Ivy League educated — who are currently treading that path are Jess Niederer, profiled below, and and Tannwen Mount, see story on following page…

Giving Thanks for a great 2012

We are sincerely thankful for our members and customers who saw us through a great 2012 growing season. We will be at the Stangl Factory Farmers Market through December, and otherwise we’ll see you at the 2013 markets! CSA sign-ups for 2013 are now open.

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In the NJ Spotlight

Check out Chickadee Creek Farm in this NJSpotlight article!

Jess in the spotlight
(NJSpotlight/Photo by Amanda Brown)

After graduating from Cornell University with an ecology degree, Jess Niederer ditched the research lab in favor of a new workspace: New Jersey farmland.

“I wanted to do something that had an instantaneous connection to people,” she said, “and feeding them seemed like a straight line.”

And, she said, she missed the family farm she grew up on in Pennington.

That was 2006. Now, as the head of Chickadee Creek Farm, she grows organic produce and flowers on land her family has tilled for generations.                                                         

Read the complete article by Annie Knox here.