The Urban Farm
New Jersey's Largest Public School Garden
What Sets us Apart?
Our educational farm is made alive by a small team of seasonal staff, part time seasonal high school students, and community volunteers led by Farmer Shaun. All food is grown using sustainable practices whose origins are heavily rooted in indigenous cultural growing methods. On the farm we don't use chemical or organic fertilizers. The land is worked mostly by hand. The environmental sustainability of the farm is a core value guiding all of our growing decisions.
We are consistently putting into practice new innovations to make the farm more productive and viable to the community and environment. Urban agriculture is essential to a community putting healthy, fresh food close to the need.
Designed for Learning
The farm sits on land belonging owned by the Morris School District. In a unique public/ private partnership, the school district leases us the previously unused land to create a vibrant, living one acre farm. Having an urban farm goes beyond the concept of school garden where we provide unique interactive educational opportunities for the 5,200 school children of the Morris School District.
During 2020, many virtual lessons were created by Farmer Tina and Farmer Shaun for the students. One of the benefits of the virtual lessons for us has been sharing them with the greater community as well. Farm to school lessons incorporating STEAM principles put children on a path towards healthier and greener choices. Outdoor classrooms are essential and we are working towards renewing the farm for the reopening of schools and return of student groups.
Reaching families too as those newly learned lessons and joy of tastings translate into new practices at home is the magic. In these times, even more families are cooking together, and the time spent in the kitchen and around the table helps build to create a lifetime of healthier food choices. In addition, we are excited to see the numbers of families that are growing their own fresh food and making mindful choices that support the environment, with endeavors like composting and planting for pollinators.
We know this is not the reality of the situation for all residents though. Programs are created to be accessible and respectful of the incredible diverse community where the farm is located. For example, the virtual programming includes bilingual materials that are easier to access, because we are using learning platforms that Morris School District children are already familiar with.
In 2020, we provided 50 tomato and pepper plants to community members through Help MorrisNOW. We are providing free farm TO-GO kits with seedlings to the Atlantic Health families. Last summer, with Kings Food Markets, we made nearly 150 free farm kits available to the children in the community.
The farm is a learning place for higher education students including area colleges and for the general community. For example, students studying nutrition at St. Elizabeth University assist with starting seedlings at the greenhouse on campus to grow at the farm. In addition, we are working with students to come up with new ways to feed people in a growing urban environment like the hydroponic kit project made available to 100 freshman STEM students at Morristown High School.
We have recently received funding for farm apprenticeships to grow our educational reach investigating new sustainable, growing methods, empowering underrepresented individuals to pursue farming as a viable profession.
Addressing Nutritional Inequity
Increasing access to fresh, healthy produce is an important part of our mission. Last year, we donated a record 8,800 lbs. of urgently needed nutrient dense produce to our community. We donate to our respected partners who have established distribution networks, like Interfaith Food Pantry Network, nourish.NJ, Table of Hope, and Help MorrisNOW.
One of our programs at the farm to solve nutritional access inequity is to host the Atlantic Health Family Care & Guidance families with weekly, free local produce pickups at the farm along with health and wellness programs. These programs seek to inspire healthier food choices by engaging the whole family at the farm while creating positive food experiences with vegetables.
In addition, we hold a weekly farm stand for the community. We welcome SNAP benefits and sell produce at an affordable cost through our weekly Saturday Farm Stands and Community Support Agriculture (CSA) shares. The look of the produce grown on a small, local farm may vary slightly from what you see in the supermarket, however the taste of the produce just harvested is so fresh. We continue to make local, sustainably grown food accessible to more people who have barriers to access!
Come Visit Us at the Farm!
Farm is limiting visitors due to COVID-19 however there are lots of ways to get involved.
Getting To The Farm
Located behind the Lafayette Learning Center, at 31 Hazel Street in Morristown, NJ.
From center of Morristown:
Turn on Martin Luther King Ave. Make a left onto Hazel St. Drive to the end of Hazel and you will see the school in front of you - go all the way behind the building past the field and you will see the farm gate.