Farm Credit’s Fresh Perspectives program recently honored 100 people nationwide for their efforts to shape the future of American agriculture, including Fernand “Chip” Paillex, founder of America’s Grow a Row located in Pittstown.
Paillex who was honored in the rural and urban connection category, according to a news release.
“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,” Paillex said. “America’s Grow-a-Row hopes to continue to build upon the produce we plant, harvest and donate to low-income areas and food deserts each year and to expand this model nationally.
“We will continue to deliver produce into low-income areas and food deserts, while getting community residents actively involved in our efforts through volunteering.”
In 2002, Paillex and his daughter founded America’s Grow A Row in their backyard garden in Hunterdon County. Today, it grows produce on more than 250 owned acres.
Combined with their homegrown produce and produce from other New Jersey farms, the organization has donated more than 4.9 million pounds of produce to food banks, pantries, soup kitchens and free farmers’ markets in the state’s low income areas, including more than 1.2 million pounds last year.
Additionally, he 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, according to the news release.
“AGAR is not only fulfilling their mission to provide fresh produce for those in need, while educating the public about hunger and introducing youth to agriculture in a hands-on way, but they are also cultivating a community of giving back,” said Dave GaNun, Farm Credit East appraiser in the Flemington branch office. “Staff from our office has volunteered with AGAR on many occasions and it’s always a rewarding experience.”
Farm Credit launched the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives program as part of its 100th anniversary of service to rural communities and agriculture. Selected by a panel of experts on rural matters, these honorees join an impressive list of leaders positively shaping agriculture and rural communities.
“We are pleased to honor leaders, such as Chip, who are shaping the future of agriculture and rural communities,” said Steve Makarevich, Farm Credit East vice president. “Farm Credit has supported rural America for 100 years, and we appreciate the vision it takes to remain successful over time in agriculture and rapidly evolving, thriving rural industries.
“This honor recognizes those who are working to ensure it remains vibrant for generations to come.”
Farm Credit East joins the nearly 80 Farm Credit organizations that are celebrating the dynamic future of rural communities and agriculture. A complete list of the Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives honorees is available online.
Farm Credit East extends more than $6 billion in loans and has 21 local offices in its seven-state service area. In addition to loans and leases, the organization also offers a full range of agriculturally specific financial services for businesses related to farming, horticulture, forestry and commercial fishing.
Farm Credit East is governed by a 17-person board of directors.