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Farming in the capital city

Capital City Farm and Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell donates tons of fresh produce and grains

The Mercer County Park Commission’s Capital City Farm (CCF), a flourishing urban farm in Trenton, recently welcomed its new Farm Manager, Corinne Gordon.

Gordon brings a wealth of experience from her previous role as Farm Specialist for the Carter Historic Farm in Bowling Green, Ohio, according to Mercer County. Her background in sustainable agriculture and community engagement is a perfect match for the Park Commission’s mission and goals for this vibrant space, which include providing locally grown produce for those with limited access to fresh food, lush floral cutting gardens — as well as the opportunity to learn about and participate in urban agriculture.

CCF and the Park Commission’s Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell donate tons of fresh produce and grains, including grits and whole wheat flour, to food pantries and soup kitchens throughout Mercer County each year. In 2022, 21 tons of produce were donated.

Produce from Capital City Farm in Trenton. PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY
Produce from Capital City Farm in Trenton. PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY

“We were very fortunate to be able to bring Corinne aboard,” said Aaron T. Watson, executive director for the Park Commission. “With her education and experience, we know that the farm will continue to flourish under her leadership, strengthening our outreach to the community and the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK).”

Capital City Farm and TASK have been great partners for many years, even prior to the first harvest, according to Joyce Campbell, TASK CEO.

“Having a farm next door to a soup kitchen is like a dream come true as it’s often difficult to get fresh produce donated,” Campbell said. “The farm’s donation of fresh produce inspired the installation of a salad bar at TASK, which not only provides nutritious foods, but also provides choice for our patrons, most of whom live in poverty and don’t often have the choices many of us take for granted.”

Farming with flair

Many farmers may be natural artists, with their carefully-sown beds, their gentle coaxing of seedlings, and their passion for creating a product that they can be proud of. Indeed, the work of farmers requires the touch and vision of craftsmen, and Capital City Farm has become a living canvas that showcases the beauty of agriculture and art.

Produce from Capital City Farm in Trenton. PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY
Produce from Capital City Farm in Trenton. PHOTO COURTESY OF MERCER COUNTY

Working closely with Gordon is Walter Roberts, an artist-turned-farmer whose unique set of skills have been a mainstay of Capital City Farm since it was first acquired by a coalition of local partners and converted into a farm. Starting as a volunteer and eventually becoming a full-time farmer for the Park Commission, Roberts is largely responsible for the growth and variety of crops produced on the farm, not to mention the art that adorns the fences and other structures there. Roberts’ artistry is on display in the meticulously-managed garden beds and the portraits he paints and displays along the farm’s enclosure.

Also contributing to the aesthetic is Raven George, New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Cut Flower Production Manager and CCF florist, who creates beautiful flower bouquets each Saturday from the cockscomb, zinnias, cosmos, and snapdragons grown at the farm. Occasionally, she holds free workshops to teach others how to create their own cut flower arrangements at home.

Capital City Farm’s commitment to sustainability and artistic expression has transformed a once-vacant lot into a dynamic space for the entire community to enjoy. Even beyond the garden beds and fruit trees at the edge of the farm, the work of Gordon, Roberts, George, and a host of volunteers and interns is fast finding new roots in the neighborhood, and throughout New Jersey’s capital city.

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