Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Fernand "Chip" Paillex
Founder, America’s Grow-a-Row

Category
Location
Pittstown, New Jersey
Farm Credit Affiliation
Farm Credit East
Fernand "Chip"'s Perspective

In 2002, Chip Paillex and his daughter founded America's Grow-a-Row (AGAR) with a simple mission: to grow produce on its farms and glean unused produce from other local farms in New Jersey to donate to food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and free farmers’ markets in the state’s low income areas.

“Knowing that there are thousands of people across New Jersey, many of whom are children and seniors, who are faced with hunger and don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables is a personal and professional motivation for me and our team,” Chip says. “Sharing this lesson of selfless giving with my 17-year-old daughter who still plays a role in our work inspires me on a daily basis.”

Started in his backyard garden, AGAR now grows produce on over 250 owned acres. Since its founding, the organization has donated more than 4.9 million pounds of produce, including more than 1.2 million pounds last year. Chip has inspired more than 5,500 people to volunteer with the organization, and seeks to hire young farmers to work for him as they start their farming careers.

“Through America’s Grow-a-Row, we hope to continue to build upon the produce we plant and harvest each year and donate to those faced with hunger, and to expand this model nationally,” Chip says. “We will continue to deliver produce into low-income areas as well as food deserts while getting the residents of these communities actively involved in our efforts through volunteering.”

AGAR hosts free weekly and bi-weekly farm markets in major urban centers in New Jersey throughout the harvest season. AGAR also hosted 750 children at the farm and educated more than 3,200 people in schools, community centers and churches about farming, nutrition, healthy eating, the hunger crisis and the importance and benefits of volunteering.

“There’s a renewed interest in local, seasonal, farm fresh offerings, and in where our food comes from,” says Chip. “Fortunately, young adults are pursuing careers at smaller farms to satisfy the demand for healthy local food.” Chip includes his own farm team in this trend: his six employees range in age from 22-40 years old.

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