Rutgers Launches Public Course To Train New Farmers In New Jersey

Farmers are aging out in New Jersey, and there's a new push to bring young blood into the Garden State’s industry. CBS2's Meg Baker reports.

Video Transcript

DANA TYLER: Farmers are aging out in New Jersey. But now there's a new push to bring young blood into the Garden State's farming industry. CBS 2's Meg Baker reports.

MEG BAKER: There is a concern in New Jersey about who will be farming the land in the future.

BRENDON PEARSALL: The average age of our [? farms ?] are [? 160 ?] years old.

MEG BAKER: Brendon Pearsall with Rutgers University's agricultural experiment station has a new course open to the public called R U Ready to Farm, Getting Rooted in the Garden State. It's a statewide initiative to train new and beginning farmers.

You'll learn how to grow. But the main focus of the course is on the business behind farming.

BRENDON PEARSALL: There's a lot of barriers to entry. Land is very expensive in New Jersey.

MEG BAKER: And it's hard to acquire the skills if you aren't born to a farm family. But oftentimes, the next generation leaves the farm for college and onto other things. Fact is, farming is hard work.

James Klett started his venture when he was just 17. He says a new focus on sustainability and buying local has boosted business, especially from Generation Z and Millennials.

JAMES KLETT: I think, with our generation, whether it's because of health concerns or environmental concerns, there's definitely a trend towards organic.

MEG BAKER: The owner of Good Earth Nursery in Cream Ridge says it's a good time to lease or buy from aging farmers.

ALEX STEIN: I think there's a lot of opportunity.

MEG BAKER: The program will offer students access to quarter acre lots and the infrastructure needed to kick start their careers. A commute via tractor doesn't look so bad. In Cream Ridge, New Jersey, Meg Baker, CBS 2 News.