Mahwah farms the focus of efforts to support local agriculture

Photo courtesy of Celine Panis-Pardo.

Fall festivities are coming to a close, but the harvest continues on Mahwah’s local farms. The Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO), associated with Lovewell Farm and Fresh Roots Farm, proves how supporting local businesses and making sustainable food choices can go hand in hand.

MEVO is a grassroots environmental not-for-profit, with the mission statement on its website citing “regenerative farming practices, hands on education, and building community” as the three pillars of its operations. Regenerative agriculture involves focusing on building a positive environmental footprint through practices such as low-till farming and protecting the microorganisms and fungi in the soil.

“We’re using agriculture as a tool to heal our environment,” said Violet Reed, the executive director of MEVO, in an interview with Solve Climate By 2030. “A farm can really be a nexus between the environment, the community, and earth care.”

MEVO is currently seeking interns for its Fall Crew. Members get hands-on experience with “environmental work and leadership development” on the farms associated with the organization. However, volunteering is not the only way to support sustainable food options.

Purchasing from local farms that utilize regenerative agriculture can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with an individual’s consumption patterns. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported that 10% of emissions in the U.S. in 2019 came from the agricultural sector. Practices associated with industrial agriculture and factory farms bear most of the responsibility. For example, the improper treatment of mass quantities of manure leads to the release of methane.

The consequences of industrial agriculture extend far beyond greenhouse gas emissions. Growing large quantities of a single crop in monocultures reduces the local biodiversity and damages the soil, requiring the excessive usage of fertilizers and pesticides. 

As it is more environmentally conscious to purchase from local farms that support better land management methods, produce vendors have become more accessible, especially throughout North Jersey. There are plenty of examples not far from Ramapo College. Secor Farms, located a little over three miles from the campus, chooses natural pest control methods. Its operations forgo all insecticides and pesticides to protect local pollinators and preserve the integrity of the soil and water.

Secor Farms is offering a wide selection of products for the fall, including locally grown produce, dairy products, flowers and seasonal decorations. Starting Nov. 23, Thanksgiving pies will be available to bring extra cheer and sweetness to holiday celebrations. The main website provides a comprehensive overview of what to expect each season.

Ramapo College’s garden club takes on hyperlocal community involvement, as each student participates in regenerative agriculture. The group bonds over getting their hands dirty and learn about sustainability within the food system. As a bonus, members are often able to take home the fruits — and vegetables — of their labor for free.

The value of ensuring the food that nurtures people is grown in ways that nurture the planet as well is not to be underestimated. Sustainability within agriculture is the key to a resilient food system, the protection of consumers’ health, and the integration of human activities alongside ecosystem functions. 

There are plenty of ways to get involved in supporting renewable agriculture, from purchasing from a local farm to joining organizations that value sustainability. The options are nearly endless, and they are open to anyone who is willing to learn and dedicated to the planet.