Located on 231-acres of land in the Delaware River Watershed of New Jersey, Genesis Farm is “a learning center for re-inhabiting the Earth.” By combining spirituality, education, and sustainable agriculture, Genesis Farm seeks to promote human and ecological health and to foster a feeling of mutuality with nature. As part of its commitment to bioregionalism, Genesis Farm strives to recover a sense of place through its programs, activities, and practices. It also promotes global security by working for social, political, economic, and ecological justice on all levels through education and networking. Seeking to create a vision of a more sustainable future for the Earth and its living communities, Genesis Farm draws on the world’s spiritual traditions as well as the modern scientific story of the universe. Based on the belief that the divine is revealed in the vast biological and cultural diversity of the planet and in the wider, unfolding Universe to which it belongs, the various activities at Genesis Farm highlight the connections between the well-being of human and ecological communities on both global and local levels.
Genesis Farm was an early participant in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement (in which local producers and consumers join together in a shared farming venture). Utilizing the ecological and spiritual methods of Biodynamics, an agricultural method based on the work of Rudolph Steiner, the Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm features a large vegetable garden and orchard. With four full-time gardeners and approximately 250 members, the CSG at Genesis Farm provides both an experiential learning environment and an alternative to industrial agriculture.Various programs are offered at the Farm’s Ecological Learning Center, including an accredited graduate certificate program in Earth Literacy. Other learning facilities at the Center include a library, resource center, and teaching kitchen. In the effort to shift to more sustainable modes of dwelling, two straw-bale residential structures have been built on-site as well as three different models of composting toilets which have been installed in the main farm house. An eighty-panel solar array currently generates one hundred percent of the Learning Center’s electricity.
In 2001, the Foodshed Alliance of the Ridge and Valley, a project initiated by Genesis Farm, was officially founded. The Foodshed is a grassroots organization dedicated to sustaining farmers, farms, and a rural way of life in the ridge and valley area of northwestern New Jersey. By promoting local foods and the local farm economy, the Foodshed seeks to enable farmers to make a viable living and stay on the land.
Genesis Farm has also worked to help establish a public elementary school that will emphasize Earth Literacy. In January 2002, the application for Ridge and Valley Charter School was approved by the state of New Jersey. The school is scheduled to open its doors to ninety students, grades K–8, in September of 2004.
|Geographic Location||United States of America
(Northwestern New Jersey)
|Duration of Project||1980–Present|
Genesis Farm was founded by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey, who inherited the land in 1980, when the Von Boecklin family bequested their 140-acre farm—known to locals as Red Cat Farm—to the Sisters. The Sisters, under the leadership of Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis, decided to create an ecological learning center. This decision reflected the Congregation's traditional focus on education and a growing concern about environmental degradation, pollution, world hunger, economic disparity, and the demise of the family farm, the Dominican Sisters, under the persuasive leadership of Sister Miriam Therese MacGillis, decided to create an ecological learning center. In 1986–1987 the first biodynamic, community supported garden was founded. The first program in Earth Literacy was offered at Genesis Farm in 1990. In 1998, an additional eighty-six acres of land, including a pond, was donated to the Sisters to be part of the preserve at Genesis Farm. All 231-acres are now preserved in a farmland and open-space preserve program created by the state of New Jersey.
Sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey, the Genesis Farm attempts to integrate the insights of a new cosmology, based on the evolutionary dynamics of the universe. This convergence of the deep insights of science and spirituality has been most significantly articulated by “geologian” Thomas Berry. Honoring the collective wisdom of the earth’s spiritual traditions, with their shared but diverse insights into the Sacred Mystery, is seen as an essential component of this task.
Genesis Farm is a learning center for Earth studies. It welcomes all people of good will in the search for alternative ways to achieve true human and ecological well-being. It focuses on the connections between the health of our global commons of air, water, land, nature, and the health of our local communities and bioregions. It is rooted in a spirituality that reverences Earth as a primary revelation of the divine.
Foodshed Alliance of the Ridge and Valley
|Long-term Goals||None Listed|
|Additional Research Resources||"Reconnecting with the Earth: Finding the Spiritual Element in Agriculture at Genesis Farm." Interview with Miriam MacGillis. Acres USA. June 2000.|
|Contact Information||Genesis Farm
41A Silver Lake Road
Blairstown, New Jersey 07825