River-Friendly Farms

What is the River-Friendly Farm Program?

The River-Friendly Farm Certification Program is a FreeVoluntary and Self-Paced program that assists farmers in identifying areas for improvement to help protect our water resources.It was initiated to address water quality concerns within the Raritan River Basin. The program seeks to promote environmentally friendly farming practices through the recognition of farmers that, through good management, help to protect water resources within the watershed. To participate, farms voluntarily send an application to the North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council. Once an application has been received, a conservation planner will schedule a site visit with the land owner or producer. The farm is then evaluated in 5 main areas which are:

  • Soil Loss Management
  • Nutrient Management
  • Pest Management
  • Riparian Buffers
  • Irrigation Water Management


River Friendly Farm Application Process

If you need assistance or are interested in applying for the River-Friendly Certification Program, please email Kara Hasko or call her at (908) 441-7526.


Program Goals

  • To publicly recognize and reward farmers who do an outstanding job of managing their farms in an economically and environmentally sound way that protects and improves water resources within the Raritan River Basin
  • Publicize and promote agricultural best management practices that help improve water quality while maintaining and improving agricultural viability of New Jersey farms
  • Increase public awareness of farmers’ voluntary contributions to resource protection
  • Create new partnerships to begin future regional implementation of the River-Friendly Farm Program

Benefits of becoming a River Friendly Farm

  • Provides public recognition for implementing and maintaining stewardship practices
  • Creates an avenue for increased marketing strategies with River-Friendly Farm Label
  • Improve water quality in streams while maintaining productive farmland
  • Promotes more efficient use of fertilizers and pesticides
  • Provides a healthier soil structure

Certification Process

Certification is given by the Raritan Watershed Agricultural Committee’s (RWAC) River-Friendly Farm Subcommittee. The subcommittee consists of members from the RWAC, NJ Water Supply Authority, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, New Jersey Department of Agriculture, NJ Farm Bureau, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and Local Soil Conservation Districts. The River-Friendly Certification is attached to the property being certified, not the person. If ownership changes or if the operation changes by 20% or more the operation will need to be reevaluated. If the property does not meet the certification criteria, a conservation planner will work with the farmer and/or landowner to develop and implement a plan to become certified.

Recognition Process

Those who become certified may receive:

  • Sign for display
  • Certificate
  • Announcement in local & statewide newspapers
  • Public recognition among their peers, such as at a County Board of Agriculture or Soil Conservation District meeting
  • Future value-added recognition

More Information

Currently the River-Friendly Farm program is offered in the Musconetcong, Raritan, Lopatcong and Wickecheoke watersheds in New Jersey.  Farms located in the covered watersheds are encouraged to apply. The areas of South Branch, Spruce Run/Mulhockaway, and Neshanic watersheds are specifically targeted for the River-Friendly Program because the waterways are not meeting water quality standards there. Below is a map of the River Friendly Farm project area (click to zoom in):