Final report for NENJ17-001
New Jersey is a unique state with very intense agricultural production systems, among an extremely diverse and concentrated population. This project was conducted for agricultural service providers and producers to have access to population demographic information about potential specialty crop market areas. By having this information growers may be able to make informed choices about which high demand specialty world crops to produce and where to focus or increase their marketing efforts. The interactive demographics map developed with this project was incorporated with the “World Crops” website http://worldcrops.org as a tandem tool for education and decision making for farmers. Through training events, during the project period, 21 agricultural service providers were educated on how to use the interactive demographics map to identify clusters of ethnic populations in the state and locate established retail produce markets to sell specialty crops. Of the 21 persons trained, 4 responded that they utilized the mapping tool to consult with 5 farmers. Additional agricultural service providers and farmers were reached via statewide presentations at the New Jersey Agricultural Convention and New Jersey Farm Bureau Convention. The interactive demographics map can be viewed and utilized on the Rutgers SARE website for market research, Rutgers Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education. Lastly, this project was also presented at the 2020 National Association for County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference and was awarded as a National Finalist in the communications website category.
8 agricultural service providers will work with 5 farmers each, for a total of 40 farmers, to identify new ethnic specialty crops to produce for market using demographic information that reveals areas of strong demand and market outlets, and World Crops information (from http://www.worldcrops.org ) to select crops suitable for production in New Jersey.
The most requested educational need agriculture producers express, to agricultural service providers when surveyed’ is, “What can I produce to make money?” This is especially true with beginning farmers. A survey taken by 28 agricultural service providers in New Jersey at the Spring Agricultural and Natural Resources department meeting revealed that 75% of agricultural agents and program associates said they are most often asked what should be produced to make money when questioned by new farmers. When asked what were the top inquiries from established farmers, 68% of agricultural service providers still said, “what can be grown for increased profitability”. Without financial success all other components of sustainability are unachievable. Producing widely grown “staple commodities” rarely achieves sustainable profits in the wholesale market for small-scale, limited-season producers in New Jersey. Many traditional wholesale producers have begun some form of local/retail marketing strategies to increase farm profits, recognizing that in order to be profitable, farmers in the State must produce high value crops and market them locally; but the question from farmers about what new high-value crops specifically might be profitable to produce is difficult to answer. Local markets in New Jersey are diverse and changing, with increasing ethnic populations. Currently, agricultural service providers lack adequate knowledge about the demographics contributing to the diversity of markets to properly advise farmers.
New Jersey is an extremely unique state; very intense agricultural production systems, among an extremely diverse and concentrated population. The U.S. Census Bureau reports the population of New Jersey to be 8,944,469 in 2016, making the State the most densely populated in the Nation with 1,210 persons per square mile. In addition, more than 1 in 4 New Jerseyans identify as either Latino or Asian. The U.S. census data also reveals that 21.7% of persons living in New Jersey are foreign born. Moreover, according to the American Immigration Council, in 2014 the purchasing power of New Jersey’s Latino and Asian populations was $46 billion and $46.3 billion respectively. Besides cultural diversity, New Jerseyans also earn some of the highest per capita incomes in the nation. It is an obvious strategy to market directly to consumers in a state that is the most densely populated in the U.S., with high diversity and wealth, and with farmers who recognize there are opportunities to market ethnic specialty crops for a price premium in the state. It is not so obvious, however, to a vast majority of farmers or ag service providers, about where specifically to market and what crops to grow for the extremely diverse populations.
Information about market demand and demographics, coupled with the ability to produce a crop in the Northeast region must be considered in their decisions. If producers have access to population demographic information about their potential market areas, then they can use this information, with the assistance of ag service providers, to make informed choices about which high demand ethnic crops to produce and where to focus or increase their marketing efforts. Currently agricultural service providers cannot provide this kind of assistance to producers because they lack the detailed, localized demographic data that can help farmers identify promising ethnic markets and target their production and marketing to access these areas. Additionally, traditional horticultural and crops training may not have included ethnic crops information. Therefore, the use of the “World Crops” website http://worldcrops.org will be essential in the training in tandem with demographic information training. The World Crops website has detailed production information on crops from 4 different continents and 26 different countries. The website was developed from a previous SARE grant with the University of Massachusetts and Rutgers University. Most of the crops listed have been researched for production in the Northeast.
•In year 1, the project team will work with the Rutgers Office of Research Analytics to investigate NJ demographic information and prepare overlay maps, handouts and presentations about this information to use in training events in years 2 and 3.
- Two half day in-service, classroom trainings for 20 recruited ag service providers will be held during winter months in years 2 and 3 (10 each year) to present Power Point slide materials, website information and project-created handouts on demographic research and ethnic crop production information to match ethnic populations and crops in demand by those population. Current ethnic markets established in these areas will be identified as potential marketing locations.
- Participants will have access via website to materials produced on detailed demographics and farm products popular with different ethnic populations to use as as educational tools and reference materials for expanded outreach. These materials will be introduced to ag service providers at the in-service trainings.
- Presentations will be given at statewide events for farmers and ag service providers (NJ Agricultural Convention, regional vegetable conferences, NOFA NJ Conferences, and others) to provide broader outreach about the project and the resources about New Jersey demographic information, market opportunities and world crops suitable for production in New Jersey.
October 2017-September 2018 – The project team will work with Lucas Marxen and Daniel Farnsworht at the Rutgers Office of Research Analytics (RORA) to investigate demographic information for New Jersey with various resources and population statistics.
Demographic information from the U.S. Census data were uploaded onto digital maps to show clusters of citizens identifying in ethnic categories in certain areas of the State of New Jersey. Economic data was also mapped to show income. The main objective of the project is to identify ethnic populations where specialty farm products are demanded from groups who identify with certain ethnic backgrounds.
February 2018-April 2018 –20 service providers enroll as participants for training as a result of recruitment presentations shared at 3-4 agricultural service provider events and grower conferences (NJ State Agricultural Convention, Regional Vegetable Meetings, Agricultural Agents Meeting, NOFA-NJ, and others). 8 members of the Rutgers Vegetable Crops and Tree Fruit and Small Fruit Crops working groups agree to become core extension educator participants, serving as key outreach trainers and agreeing to work with 5 farmers each who are interested in developing new ethnic crop enterprises.
In May 2018, 14 agricultural service providers attended an educational event to learn about a new web-based demographics tool to identify ethnic populations for new markets for ethnic produce. The project leaders described the mapping information that would be provided and explained the tie in with the http://world crops.org website used to identify produce that would be preferred by certain demographic areas. The event was a preliminary educational meeting. The final version of the website and maps was still in progress at the time of this event. Participant input for the final website and maps was valuable to assist with developing content.
April 2018 –October 2018 –The 8 core participants will attend conference calls quarterly to discuss updates on progress of the project and report on their outreach activities
Conference calls were done on June 15th, August 16th and September 30th to update 4 service providers who were learning about the program and discussions took place on ways to outreach this information to farmer clientele. The outreach to farmers did not yet occur in the first year since agricultural service providers were waiting for the final product of the website and maps to move forward with information disemination.
April 2018 –October 2018 –All 20 service providers who signed up for attending trainings will receive updates via an email-list serve and will receive a recording tool for data collection of outreach with farmers.
Fourteen interested agricultural service providers who attended the initial even were invited to view the beta version of the demographics website. The maps are completed with the demographic information was overlaid on the geographic boundaries. The website was still under construction and the final version was launched in Spring 2019. Farmer outreach was planned for summer 2019 after agricultural service provider training was conducted.
May 2018-July 2018 – Project team and RORA will create overlay maps of demographic information throughout the state that will include predominant ethnicity and per capita income of each area of the state by town/city, county and region to begin project.
The beta version of the demographics map was completed in December 2018. The next phase was to pair the ethnic crops list from the World Crops website to the demographic maps to show which crops are affiliated with each ethnic community.
September 2018-October 2018 – Project Leaders and RORA will continue and work on demographic information and prepare for coordination with Rick VanVranken to develop the lecture plan for the World Crops website materials http://worldcrops.org for future educational events.
The leadership team worked with Richard VanVranken to plan educational outreach to agricultural service providers and farmers at the February 2019 Vegetable Growers Association of NJ Convention and NJ Agricultural Convention educational program. Mr. VanVranken presented information on ethnic crops and the project website "Using Demographic Information to Identify Specialty Crop Markets" at http://sare.rutgers.edu/market-research.html. At this event, 12 agricultural service providers and 52 farmers were in attendance to learn about the website and how to use the information to identify ethnic markets.
October 2018-January 2019 – 20 service providers, including the 8 core extension participants, and 40 farmers learn about demographic information useful for identifying potential ethnic crop markets to produce for and about specific ethnic crops suitable for production in NJ that are in demand by these markets via Power Point slide presentations and educational articles delivered at the NJ Agricultural Convention, regional vegetable growers meetings and an Agricultural Agent’s meeting.
Presentations were provided to inform agricultural service providers and farmers about resources for identifying ethnic communities in New Jersey and vegetable crops favored by certain ethnic groups identified. At this point a beta version of the web site tool was presented. The final version of the digital information was not yet completed. The missing portion of the web-based tool, was identifying the retail markets for produce in order for farmers to reach customers. Presentations were given at the 2019 Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey and New Jersey Agricultural Conventions. Adding market location information will enhance the digital information and provide locations for actual sales of produce in ethnic communities.
November 2018 –150 farmers learn about progress made on demographic findings, potential new markets, and in-demand ethnic crops that may be suitable to produce for the identified markets via a table top display and educational materials presented by project leaders at the November NJ Farm Bureau Convention.
A table top display highlighting the specialty crops and ethnic population demographics project for New Jersey was presented with project team leaders there to answer questions from conference attendees at the 2018 New Jersey Farm Bureau 100th Annual Convention on November 13th and 14th. SARE educational materials and project information was also distributed to attendees.
February 2019-April 2019 –20 agricultural service providers, including the 8 core extension participants, participate in a half day classroom training with Power Point presentations and discussions and learn about demographic tools to use with commercial farmers. The 8 core participants convene at the close of the training to discuss outreach strategies for working with farmers. Learning outcomes from the event will be collected through ag service provider surveys.
A workshop for agricultural service providers was held on June 25, 2019 in Trenton, Mercer County, NJ. Project Leader, Rick VanVranken presented information on the new demographic, crop, and marketing website developed through this project. He also highlighted the World Crops website, formerly funded by Northeast SARE and how the two projects combined can work as a tool for finding local markets for specialty crops and recommendations on how to grow these crops.
April 2019 –October 2019 –The 8 core participants will attend conference calls quarterly to discuss progress and their outreach to farmers.
Update discussions were held on March 1, 2019, May 1, 2019, July 19, 2019 and September 6, 2019 to review progress and outreach to farmers.
April 2019 –October 2019 –All 20 service provider participants will receive updates via an email-list serv.
A follow-up email was sent to re-announce launching of the final version of the "Using Demographics Information to Identify Specialty Crop Markets" at http://sare.rutgers.edu/market-research.html to agricultural service providers who attended the June 25, 2019 workshop to remind the participants of the website launch and to encourage them to share the information with farmers.
April 2019 – 150 service providers will learn about the progress of the project via presentations at 3-4 agricultural service provider events and grower conferences (NJ State Agricultural Convention, Regional Vegetable Meetings, Agricultural Agents Meeting, NOFA-NJ, and others).
A presentation describing the website "Using Demographic Information to Identify Specialty Crop Markets" at http://sare.rutgers.edu/market-research.html was provided to 55 agricultural service providers and farmers at NJ State Agricultural Convention, 108 agricultural service providers and farmers at the Central Jersey Vegetable Meeting on February 22, 2019, 64 agricultural service providers and farmers at the North Jersey Vegetable Meeting on February 28, 2019, and 25 agricultural service providers at the Rutgers Agricultural Agents Meeting.
July 2019 – 8 ag service providers report on progress made with outreach to farmers with training information. Case studies will be reported from farms working on ethnic crops and marketing.
Four agricultural service providers reported they discussed the website with 5 farmer clients already growing ethnic and specialty crops.
September 2019 –20 ag service providers, including the 8 core extension participants, who participated in the Year 2 workshop respond to follow-up surveys to report how they have used information learned with farmer clientele and obtain data on farmer intentions, new crop production and marketing actions, and benefits.
Agricultural service providers who shared the information about the demographics website to identify new markets totaled 4 people who shared the information with 5 farmers. One agricultural service provider shared the information to 16 farmers at a vegetable field tour meeting on August 21, 2019.
September 2019-October 2019 – Co-PI’s, Project Leaders and RORA will continue and work on demographic information and prepare final roll-out of web-based information consisting of demographic information, scripted Power Point presentations and educational publications.
The final website http://sare.rutgers.edu/market-research.html for demographic information for ethnic marketing was completed and presented to agricultural service providers on June 25, 2019.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these face-to-face classroom trainings did not occur. Instead, on July 10, 2020 a group of 8 agricultural service providers met on a WebEx online meeting on this subject. March 2020-April 2020 –20 agricultural service providers (may include new recruits as well as participants from year 2) participate in a half day classroom training and learn about demographic information and tools to use with commercial farmers. Core participants present convene at the close of the training to discuss outreach strategies for working with farmers. Learning outcomes from the event will be evaluated via end of training surveys.
A one-hour online training replaced a half-day classroom event. Via a WebEx platform, 8 agricultural service providers consisting of 7 county agricultural agents and 1 extension specialist learned about the resources for specialty crop marketing through the project's demographics website and interactive map system. Due to restrictions on interacting with farmers, the agricultural service provider participants felt this could be part of future on-farm or educational opportunity programming. However, with COVID-19 restrictions programming related to helping famers navigate issues related to the pandemic and other priorities for farmer outreach took precedence in 2020.
April 2020 –October 2020 –The 8 core participants will attend face-to-face meetings, quarterly to discuss progress and outreach to farmers.
On July 10 and September 11, 2020 online meetings were conducted to discuss use of the demographics maps and ethnic crops information by agricultural service providers in their programming to farmers. The same 4 agricultural service providers indicated they had utilized the information as indicated previously, but not with new clientele in the past 6 months. Reasons for not continuing programming for specialty/ethnic crop education revealed a shift in priorities with the COVID-19 pandemic for agricultural service providers. The major focus for education and outreach was farm health and safety and updates on executive orders affecting the agricultural community.
April 2020 –October 2020 –All 20 service provider participants will receive updates via an email-listserve that will grow throughout the project as new participants join.
An email list of agricultural service providers interested in ethnic crop production and marketing was developed during this project. Information was delivered via email, in person meetings and webinars throughout the project.
July 19-24, 2020 - 2 Team leaders will travel to the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference to present information to approximately 1,800 agricultural service providers about this project.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel was suspended and this professional conference was postponed until September 30 to October 1, 2020, held virtually and registration was free. Therefore, no expenditures were needed to present information from the project. The presentation was submitted as an extension educational poster https://www.nacaa.com/posters/uploads/2003.pdf and was awarded a national finalist for the top poster presentation at the virtual 2020 National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference.
February 2020-April 2020 –Team leaders and 8 core participants will present on the progress of the project via presentations at 3-4 agricultural service provider events and grower conferences (NJ State Agricultural Convention, Regional Vegetable Meetings, Agricultural Agents Meeting, NOFA-NJ and others).
One presentation was given at the NJ Agricultural Convention on February 5, 2020 to describe the applications of using the demographics website, market locations and ethnic crops production information on the website. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic all other events were cancelled.
May 2020-September 2020 – 20 service providers who participated in the Year 3 workshop respond to a follow-up survey to report how they have used information learned with farmer clientele and obtain data on farmer intentions, new crop production and marketing actions, and benefits.
The four agricultural service providers who committed to using the demographics map website information indicated they utilized information from this project with 26 farmers in New Jersey to help expand markets for specialty crops they currently produce and identified more crops that may be in demand.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
Educational activities conducted by the project team:
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Curricula, factsheets or educational tools||0||1||1||2|
|Published press articles, newsletters||1||0||1||2|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||2||2||4||8|
|Workshop / field days||1||1||0||2|
Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total Individuals|
The areas where change in knowledge was identified was in awareness of the new web tool to access information on population demographics to find potential markets for specialty/ethnic crops produced in New Jersey.
Performance Target Outcomes
Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Curricula, factsheets and other educational tools||0||1||1||2|
|Published press, articles, newsletters||0||0||1||1|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||1||1||1||3|
|Workshops and field days||1||1||0||2|
As of the end of 2019, 4 agricultural service providers indicated they shared information gained from in-service training events done in June and September 2019, to 5 farmers in New Jersey. Information passed on to farmers was done through one-on-one consultations with farmers who already were producing specialty/ethnic crops. In 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic, agricultural service provider priorities shifted and education on the project topic was postponed to address issues related to farm health and safety and shift in regulations due to the pandemic.
Additional Project Outcomes
No unanticipated outcomes to report.
None to report at this time.
Face-to-face meetings were more successful than having phone conference calls with agricultural service providers to discuss the project and outreach.
A 2-hour Rutgers University grants office seminar was hosted and the State PDP Coordinator lectured to 21 participants (faculty, staff and graduate students) on how to write successful SARE grants. Additionally, the Rutgers SARE website http://sare.rutgers.edu started in 2017, had 3,756 page visits last year and will continue to be updated and promoted for outreach. This outreach tool replaced the former Rutgers “Sustainable Farming on the Urban Fringe” website for SARE outreach in New Jersey. The Rutgers SARE website was developed for in-state communications with agricultural service providers, farmers and the general public for promotion of New Jersey NESARE funded projects. It also promotes sustainable agriculture events in the state and promotes SARE grants and products.
In November 2017, 2018 and 2019, a table top display with literature was provided to outreach SARE programs, grants and resources at the New Jersey Farm Bureau Annual Convention in Princeton, NJ. This event annually has annual attendance of 350 farmers, agricultural service providers and extension professionals in attendance. In February 2018, 2019 and 2020 a table top display was made available to over 1,200 annual attendees at the NJ State Agricultural Convention and Vegetable Growers Association Annual Trade Show and Convention in Atlantic City, NJ. The State PDP Coordinator also provided presentations at the Central NJ Vegetable Growers Meeting (~150 attendees annually), the North Jersey Vegetable Growers Meeting (~ 75 attendees annually) and SARE Grant literature was mailed to 20 counties in NJ to disseminate via Rutgers Cooperative Extension Offices.
Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|