Non Profit Service

Jerry CosgroveGrowNYC is a nonprofit organization that aims to enhanceNew York City’s environmental programs. Greenmarket is one of its most popular programs with 230 producers selling at 53 markets. Most farmers have spent at least 12 years in the program. Almost 100 percent of the farmers doubt their business could succeed without Greenmarket. Last year, Jerry Cosgrove helped GrowNYC with its Greenmarket Farmland Retention Project.

The 18-page survey asked Greenmarket farmers questions related to land and infrastructure issues. The surveys were mailed to 203 small to mid-size farmers in December 2010. Respondents lived in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermontand Massachusetts. Only farmers with land-based operations were included in the survey. The survey received a 78 percent response rate.

In addition, two focus groups were held. Participants were fromNew York,New JerseyandPennsylvania. One-on-one interviews with 12 farmers were part of the study. Those farmers hailed from different farming sectors and career stages. An advisory committee made up of farmers provided regular feedback.

In the end, GrowNYC learned the Greenmarket farmers need help. Many want assistance, but do not know where to find it. Expert Jerry Cosgrove, and the Greenmarket Farmland Retention Project, concluded that:

  • 83 percent own farmland
  • 60 percent want to expand their business
  • 53 percent want to buy land, but are faced with barriers
  • 76 percent say financial planning to buy land is a priority
  • 43 percent hope to retire in 20 years
  • 50 percent want to preserve their farmland, but are unsure how
  • 58 percent say succession planning is a priority
  • 56 percent say finding the right rental land is challenging

Jerry Cosgrove: Going Green!

Cosgrove has a continuing relationship with GrowNYC in his current position. As a result of the survey, a long-term plan was proposed to help Greenmarket farmers. The plan centered around three main strategies:

  • Technical Assistance Program

This program will teach farmers how to write business plans, draft leases and apply for loans. Plus, they will get tips on picking land and negotiating deals with landlords.

  • Operating Loan Fund

This fund is designated for farmers who are denied by lenders. Dozens of farmers could use the fund each year.

  • Capital Fund

This fund will help preserve low-cost farmland so farmers do not have to travel outside the city. Buying conservation easements are popular, but come with restrictions to ensure an optimal impact.

GrowNYC consultant Jerry Cosgrove has seen the struggles farmers go through. He comes from a fourth generation farming family. Agriculture expert Jerry Cosgrove wants to see other farmers succeed. Jerry Cosgrove has seen it brother do it. Now, he wants to see you and your family get results too.

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