Farm of the Month: Fulfill’s Community Garden

This year marked the beginning of our new "Farm of the Month" series on the Tend Blog, where we highlight the amazing work and delicious produce and food that small organic farms are producing across the country. June’s farm is Fulfill’s Community Garden in Neptune, NJ. Check back each month for new features. To be considered for our series, please email [email protected].

Owner/Manager Name: Jess Sinkhorn
Location: Neptune, NJ
Number of Employees: Owner only
Acreage: 1 acre
Specialties of the Farm: Vegetables, Herbs & Honey

How did you get into farming?
I followed a desire to grow vegetables on large scale and diversified farms and jumped in head first!

Tell us about the story of your farm – how did you (and your farm partner) get started? What was that like? What challenges did you encounter?
Fulfill, formerly the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, decided that having locally-sourced produce was an important staple to feed our immediate community. The evolution of Fulfill's Community Garden has been ongoing for around 12 years from a single raised bed at one location to six locations, over 100 raised beds, and honeybee colonies in 2017. The formula we are putting in place for 2018 surrounds the idea of communication. When we band together and share information, we will be able to grow smarter and produce more for the families most in need in this area.

What are some important things you’ve learned since you started at your farm?
On the first family farm I worked on I remember the saying "There will always be a need for produce." Once I realized that this was the path I wanted to venture down, I immediately understood the importance in the relationship between food and community.

What is the most challenging aspect given the location of your farm?
If I were to pinpoint one challenge that we have at our locations across the board is access to a solidified workforce. Labor has been an issue for some of our locations.

What do you love about your community that makes it a special place to farm?
What I have noticed about this community in the short time that I have been at this location is that there is a pure willingness to learn. Both internal staff and our valuable clients have the desire to soak up the knowledge of eating more nutrient-filled foods, as well as supporting local farms.

Name something you would love to grow that you haven't tried or been able to grow yet?
I would love to be able to grow a field of asparagus.

Where do you see your farm 10 years from now?
I hope to have an education curriculum in place where we are able to take in schools to teach young and adult gardeners/farmers about sustainable agriculture.

What are a few of your favorite farming pro tips?
Have at least three back-up plans going into the growing season, month, week and day. Be able to roll with the failures, as well as learn from them.

Who are your greatest farming influencers?
Thomas Murtha and Tricia Borneman, Blooming Glen Farm

How has Tend helped your business?
It will help me keep track of what our satellite locations are growing.

What are some of the greatest challenges, for your farm, that you have overcome? How?
When I first arrived at our Neptune location the entire property was irrigated by hand. Besides the fact that this was not efficient, we lacked the labor force to accomplish this task. I installed a full drip irrigation system that works on a timer. Now, we can focus on providing the vegetables with the proper nutrients they need to succeed.


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